Eight killed in Sri Lanka wildlife park as fighting escalates

March 10, 2007 (AFP) – Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels shot dead four security personnel and four park officials inside a wildlife sanctuary as fighting escalated elsewhere on the island, the military said Saturday. More than 4,000 people have been killed in escalating fighting since December 2005 even though the two sides agreed to a truce five years ago. The bullet-riddled bodies of the eight men were found following a search operation in the Wilpattu national park in the northwest of the island, a military official said.

Another official in the region said the victims were on their way to identify locations for setting up military detachments on the perimeters of the sprawling wildlife sanctuary, when they were ambushed on Friday.

There was no immediate word from the Tamil Tigers about the latest attack, but the guerrillas said they were returning the bodies of four police commandos killed in heavy fighting raging in the island’s restive eastern province.

Tamil Tiger spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan said the rebels buried two other bodies of elite Special Task Force (STF) commandos because they were too mutilated.

A total of nine STF commandos were killed in Friday’s confrontations with the Libera