COLOMBO, Aug 14, 2006 (AFP) – Heavy close-range fighting erupted in Sri Lanka’s besieged northern Jaffna peninsula on Monday after two days of shelling, officials said, a day after fresh peace moves were shot down. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were using human waves to pound army defence lines in the peninsula, an area they ran as a de facto separate state for five years until 1995, military officials said.
“The fighting (has been) continuing since Friday afternoon, but close quarter fighting has now begun,” a military official said.
“The Tigers are using human waves to attack army lines. There are heavy casualties on both sides.”
Military losses rose to 60 killed and at least 300 wounded while the defence ministry placed Tiger losses at 200 dead and over 350 wounded.
The intense fighting had cut off Jaffna, where hundreds of residents were fleeing the violence and displaced within the peninsula, the official said, adding that there was increased concern for the safety of civilians there.
Truce monitors have said the 2002 ceasefire now exists only on paper, with neither side showing much respect for it.
As fighting raged in the north, the government prepared for the funeral