Fresh artillery strikes in Sri Lanka, French struggle to find killers

Aug 7, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka mounted fresh artillery attacks against Tamil Tiger rebels Monday, a day after the guerrillas warned that shelling could lead to all-out war, military officials said. Troops kept up attacks in the northeastern district of Trincomalee even as Norway tried to broker a peaceful end to a water dispute at the root of the latest bloodletting which claimed at least 440 lives by official count.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said at least 15 civilians were killed Monday in the renewed shelling near the Muslim-majority town of Muttur, where fighting erupted last week.

“Fifteen civilians were killed when government forces shelled the civilian areas in the LTTE-administered section of Muttur,” the guerrillas said in a statement. “Many more were injured and large numbers of people were displaced.”

French aid workers were also struggling Monday to recover the bodies of 15 colleagues killed some time during the weekend in Muttur as the area remained sealed off by troops.

Troops and the Tigers blamed each other for the execution-style killing of the aid workers, all Sri Lankans employed by Paris-based Action Against Hunger (Action Contre la Faim or ACF).