Sri Lanka vows to hit back amid artillery duels with Tigers

Oct 9, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government vowed Monday to keep up an offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels until they stopped “provocative actions” as both sides traded artillery fire. After two weeks, the military regained territory lost to the rebels following intense fighting that claimed hundreds of lives of both sides. President Mahinda Rajapakse promised to retaliate against rebel attacks when he met with diplomats of the island’s main international donors and sought their support to persuade the rebels to enter peace talks, his office said.

Diplomats from the United States, the European Union, Japan and Norway held talks here Monday with Rajapakse on peace broker Oslo’s latest bid to arrange peace negotiations later this month.

The government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have agreed to talks aimed at ending three decades of ethnic bloodshed, but they are yet to finalise a venue and an agenda.

Some 60,000 people have been killed in the separatist conflict since 1972.

“The president reiterated his firm commitment to a negotiated settlement and to make the forthcoming talks successful,” his office said in a statement.

“He expressed the h