Tigers allege air strike amid mourning for negotiator

Dec 20, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan war planes bombed inside rebel-held territory Wednesday as the militants mourned the death of their top peace negotiator Anton Balasingham, the guerrillas said in a statement.

Israeli-built Kfir jets hit a civilian settlement in the district of Mullaitivu, but there were no casualties, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said.

They said the attack came ahead of the funeral Wednesday in London of their top peace negotiator, Anton Balasingham, who died of cancer last week.

“Throughout the Tamil homeland, flags are flying at half-mast as the nation mourns the loss of a nationally significant figure in the Tamil struggle,” the Tigers’ statement said.

It said the “attack on such a culturally and emotionally important day for the Tamil people demonstrates the absolute insensitivity of the Sinhala establishment to the Tamil sentiments and culture”.

There was no immediate reaction from Sri Lanka’s military.

Diplomats and analysts have said Balasingham’s death was a further blow to Sri Lanka’s peace process aimed at ending three decades of ethnic bloodshed.

Two rounds of abortive peace talks this year failed to stem the violence.

The separ