Relief ship prepared for thousands in beseiged Jaffna

Aug 21, 2006 (AFP) – A relief ship was being loaded Monday with food and medicine for thousands cut off in the beseiged Jaffna peninsula as clashes continued between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil rebels, officials said. The rebels tried to recapture it in 2000 but were stopped after advancing one third of the way to Jaffna town, the cultural centre of the Tamils. Aid agencies said the ship was due to leave here under a Red Cross flag Monday evening after rains at the weekend had delayed loading.

Supplies are needed to replenish stores in northern Jaffna district, the scene of fierce clashes over the last 10 days.

A newspaper boss was shot and killed Sunday evening and rebels continued to harry troops on the frontline on the peninsula, although the UN and the military reported an easing in the heavy fighting of previous days.

Targeted attacks continued with former Tamil parliamentarian and newspaper boss Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, 68, shot and killed by unknown gunmen at his home, said defence ministry spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe.

He said the rebels also attacked troops at Muhamalai on the southern edge of the Jaffna district in the early hours of Monday.

“They fired some mortars and artil