Sri Lanka seizes suspected rebel trawler, firefight in Jaffna

Mar. 22 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s navy detained a fishing trawler operated by suspected Tamil rebels off the island’s troubled northern waters Wednesday while troops and guerrillas exchanged fire in the Jaffna peninsula. The crew were being questioned by security forces after they were arrested while operating in a restricted zone off the island’s north, a military official said in Colombo.

A walkie-talkie set commonly used by Tamil Tiger rebels was found aboard the fishing vessel, he added.

The Sri Lankan navy has repeatedly accused the Tigers of using the cover of fishermen to launch attacks against the navy.

The official also said suspected Tiger rebels exchanged fire with troops in the northern peninsula of Jaffna Wednesday, but there were no casualties.

Tension has been rising in the area, with the guerrillas accusing the military of building new bunkers in violation of their four-year-old ceasefire.

“The Sri Lanka army is building bunkers and new posts in Vadamaradchi east. These are being built in Manalkadu, Potpahuthi, Kudathanai, and Nagarkovil villages,” the LTTE said in a statement on their website.

“Civilians are being barred from going to areas close to the coast,” the Ti