Clashes with Sri Lankan navy kill 7 Tamil Tiger guerrillas, military says
Sun October 1, 2006 06:35 EDT .
Associated Press Writer
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Seven Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in two separate battles with the Sri Lankan navy, the military said Sunday, as a Norwegian peace envoy arrived to try and end a seven-month deadlock in peace talks between the two sides.
Three rebels were killed Saturday evening on Kayts Island west of northern Sri Lanka's Jaffna peninsula after sailors were deployed there, an official at the Media Center for National Security said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
The navy operation followed an attempted raid Friday by a Tiger vessel that was destroyed trying to enter a naval base near the island, he said.
Four guerrillas died in the sea battle and two bodies were recovered, the official said.
The attempted infiltration prompted the navy to search Kayts Island on Saturday.
On the Jaffna peninsula, a grenade hurled at a military checkpoint wounded a soldier and four civilians on Sunday, said military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe.
Also in Jaffna, army and Tamil Tiger rebels exchanged artillery and mortar fire across the northern defense line separating the government and rebels, Samarasinghe said. No casualties were reported.
The fighting came as Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer arrived in the island for talks with government and Tiger leaders on the country's peace process.
``He will be meeting officials from both sides during the week,'' said Erik Ivo Nurnberg, a spokesman for Norway's embassy in Colombo. He gave no further details.
The last round of peace talks was February in Geneva, but a second round slated for April was canceled after each side blamed the other for rising violence.
Norway brokered a cease-fire in 2002.
Violence in recent months has killed more than 1,000 combatants and civilians in the country's northeast.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Sunday that its is ``highly worried'' because of a grenade explosion in front of the agency's office in Jaffna on Saturday.
Although nobody was hurt in the explosion, the ICRC in a statement urged the government and Tamil Tiger rebels to ``refrain from acts that jeopardize the safety of humanitarian workers.''
On Saturday, elite Sri Lankan police forces killed 11 rebels in a pre-emptive attack in the east, while a bomb blast killed three policemen in the northwest.
The Tigers _ formally called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam _ have fought the government since 1983 to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils following decades of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese-dominated state.
More than 66,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
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Published: Sun Oct 1 09:47:48 EDT 2006