Senior official shot dead in Sri Lanka ahead of peace moves

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels shot dead a senior government official in eastern Sri Lanka Friday ahead of a visit to the region by a Norwegian peace envoy, the defence ministry said. Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels shot dead a senior government official in eastern Sri Lanka Friday ahead of a visit to the region by a Norwegian peace envoy, the defence ministry said. T. Thavarajah, the main civil servant in the town of Tirrukkovil, was shot as he returned home, defence ministry spokesman Daya Ratnayake said, adding that he was believed to have been killed by Tiger rebels.

The guerrillas gave no immediate reaction to the shooting, which came two days ahead of a visit to the eastern province by Norwegian envoy Erik Solheim.

The incident came amid reports of stepped up clashes between Tigers and members of a break-away faction in the embattled eastern region.

The Norwegian embassy said earlier that Solheim will be travelling to the eastern town of Batticaloa, further north of Tirrukkovil, on Sunday at the start of his four-day visit.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) accuse government forces of siding with members of the faction led by their former number two