900 killed in Sri Lanka since December

July 19, 2006 (AFP) – At least 900 people have been killed in a surge of violence in Sri Lanka since December that has left a four-year-old Norwegian-brokered truce in tatters, a monitoring official said Wednesday. Clashes between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels erupted soon after the election late November of President Mahinda Rajapakse.

A member of the Swedish-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), which keeps track of truce violations, said that “at least 900 people have been killed since December.”

“At least 500 of them were civilians,” the SLMM official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Deaths are reported almost daily, mainly in the island’s troubled northeast where government troops and rebels engage in violent clashes and where troops and civilians have been killed by Claymore mines the military says are being deployed by the guerrillas with increasing intensity.

Military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said 282 security personnel and police were among those killed since December 1 while 476 troops and police were wounded in attacks carried out by the Tigers.

The Sri Lanka’s army’s number three officer, Parami Kulatunga, was assassinated by a suicide bomber last month.

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