Six die in fresh Sri Lanka clashes

COLOMBO, March 12, 2007 (AFP) – Six people died in fresh clashes between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka’s embattled north and east, the military said Monday as aid groups warned of a refugee crisis.

Suspected Tiger rebels set off a roadside bomb that killed a government security guard in the north central district of Anuradhapura on Monday while troops were on a routine patrol in the area, the defence ministry said.

A guerrilla was killed in an exchange of fire with troops along the frontline in the northern district of Jaffna where the rebels also lost four fighters late Sunday, the military said.

The killings came as charities operating in the embattled east Monday expressed serious concern for the safety of civilians in the troubled Batticaloa province where there are more than 120,000 refugees.

More than 40,000 people have fled their homes in recent days following shelling between the Tamil Tigers and government forces in the district of Batticaloa, adding to the 80,000 who were already internally displaced.

At least 20 rebels and one soldier were killed in a clash between the two sides on Sunday evening, the defence ministry said as hundreds of civilians were on the