Fighting kills 19 in Sri Lanka: military

COLOMBO, Dec 5, 2006 (AFP) – At least 19 people have been killed in fresh violence in Sri Lanka as peace broker Norway cancelled a meeting with Tamil Tiger rebels, defence officials said Tuesday. Two soldiers and 15 guerrillas were killed in a confrontation in the eastern district of Batticaloa on Monday while 19 troopers were also wounded, the defence ministry said.

Two Muslim civilians were shot dead in the northern town of Vavuniya on Monday evening, officials said.

The reports of fresh fighting came as a top Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer cancelled a scheduled meeting Tuesday with the political leadership of the Tigers in the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi.

Hanssen-Bauer put off the meet after Colombo asked him not to go ahead until the government here reviewed its relations with the Tigers following Friday’s suicide bomb attack against defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet website said the Sri Lankan government had scuttled the peace initiative by asking Oslo to suspend its contacts with the rebels.

The government is also considering reactivating the tough Prevention of Terrorism Act after the suicide bombing attempt against Rajapakse, the y