Fresh fighting dims Sri Lanka peace hopes, rebels say more than 50 killed

KANTALAI, Sri Lanka, Aug 10, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan warplanes bombed Tiger positions as fighting broke out again near a disputed waterway in the troubled northeast Thursday, leaving more than 50 people dead according to the rebels.

Some 30,000 people who fled their homes last week because of fighting between troops and the Tigers in the coastal Muslim town of Muttur are also sheltering in Kantalai, aid officials said.

Some had been here for longer as they ran out of water when the Tigers closed the Maavilaru sluice gates on July 20.

Six days later, the military sent planes to bomb the Tigers and began a ground offensive on July 31.

However, the guerrillas said they opened the sluice gates Tuesday, releasing water to some 15,000 farming families downstream after a request from peace broker Norway.

The military said they themselves opened the gates but the Tigers said the soldiers had opened separate gates further downstream.

-Jason Gutierrez-

The battles, which included mortar and artillery attacks, ended a one-day lull in violence that followed the reopening Tuesday by the rebels of the Maavilaru dam’s sluice gates near the small town of Kantalai in Trincomalee district.

The rebel Liberation