Tamil rebels want to continue cease-fire after Sri Lankan government withdraws
Thu January 10, 2008 11:50 EST .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Separatist Tamil Tiger rebels said Thursday they want to continue a 2002 cease-fire with the Sri Lankan government, a week after Colombo officially withdrew from the truce. Violence across northern Sri Lanka - killed five insurgents Thursday, a defense official said on condition of anonymity citing government rules.
Soldiers set off a bomb targeting a rebel bunker across a defense line in Kilali of Jaffna peninsula, killing two rebels, he said.
The two side also fought two separate battles in Muhamalai and Nagarkovil regions of the peninsula, killing three other insurgents, the official said.
On Wednesday, troops clashed with guerrillas in the districts of Vavuniya and Mannar on the border of rebel-held areas, leaving at least 24 rebels and one soldier killed, a defense ministry said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Five other rebels were killed in gunbattles Wednesday on the northern Jaffna peninsula, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The rebels could not be reached for comment. Each side routinely exaggerates the other's casualties and plays down its own.
Also Wednesday, police commandos fatally shot a senior rebel leader identified as Shankar who was hiding among civilians in the east, Nanayakkara said. Shankar was the insurgents' top leader in eastern Sri Lanka - , a region the government said it liberated from rebel control in July.
More than 70,000 people have been killed since the rebels began fighting in 1983 for an independent state for Sri Lanka - 's ethnic Tamil minority, claiming discrimination by the Sinhalese majority.
A new wave of fighting and attacks nationwide has killed at least 178 people 169 rebels, six soldiers and three civilians since the government withdrew from the truce, according to the military.
Published: Thu Jan 10 18:06:07 EST 2008