More clashes in Sri Lanka amidst peace talks

COLOMBO, Oct 29, 2006 (AFP) – At least five people were killed in clashes in north and east Sri Lanka overnight, police and defence officials said Sunday, as the government and rebel Tamil Tigers held peace talks in Geneva. Two suspected rebels were found dead after police repulsed an attack on their patrol late Saturday, officials said.

A third Tiger fighter was gunned down when an unidentified man stormed into a hospital ward in northern Anuradhapura town where he had been recovering from stab wounds and opened fire, police said.

Two soldiers were killed by rebel gunfire in a separate skirmish in the northern Jaffna peninsula Saturday, defence officials said.

The fighting came as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the government met for the first time in eight months in a bid to halt the spiralling violence that has killed more than 3,000 people since December.

No progress was reported on the first day of talks, with both sides showing little indication of giving any ground as they wrapped up the meeting Sunday.

Norwegian peace brokers had not expected a breakthrough during the two days of talks where the two parties were expected to play to their own audiences by sticking to entrench