Sri Lanka rebels say deal reached on water

Aug 6, 2006 (AFP) – Tamil Tiger rebels said Sunday they had agreed to lift a water blockade behind weeks of fighting that has killed hundreds, but warned new strikes by the Sri Lankan military would lead to full-scale war. A Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) spokesman said the group had told peace-broker Norway it would lift its irrigation blockade later Sunday, ending a crisis that began more than two weeks ago.

But they also made it clear that any fresh air strikes or artillery attacks by security forces would be the end of a shaky truce in place since 2002, Tiger spokesman Velayudan Dayanidi told AFP.

“If the government carries out any more air strikes or artillery attacks, we told Norway that we were afraid we will consider it as full-scale war in the future,” Dayanidi said.

The sluice gates at Maavilaru provide irrigation and water to thousands of people in the northeast district of Trincomalee and became the scene of bitter fighting after the government accused the rebels of halting water supplies.

Official figures showed that at least 425 people were killed in the fighting, including civilians, which threatened to spread to other areas and scuttle Norwegian-backed peace initiatives.

Norwegi