Rebels keep pressure on troops in north after Sri Lanka talks fail

Oct 30, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s military accused Tamil rebels of firing artillery at troops in the embattled Jaffna peninsula Monday after weekend peace talks between the combatants in Geneva failed. The conflict in Sri Lanka is Asia’s longest and bloodiest separatist war, claiming more than 60,000 lives since the LTTE launched its bid for Tamil independence in 1972. Military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelem (LTTE) fired mortars and artillery at Jaffna’s Muhamalai defences Monday morning.

“They kept on doing this both Saturday and Sunday and this morning’s fire came from another direction,” Samarasinghe told AFP.

The rebel attacks in northern Jaffna came a day after an LTTE spokesman in Geneva accused the government of massing troops in the region for a major offensive.

The military spokesman dismissed the statement by the LTTE’s defence spokesman Rasaiah Ilanthiriyan “as false propaganda.”

The two days of talks in Switzerland which aimed to halt a surge of violence which has claimed more than 3,000 lives since December collapsed Sunday after the two sides could not agree on re-opening a key highway to Jaffna.

The government told th