Two soldiers dead in renewed fighting near Sri Lanka waterway

KANTALAI, Sri Lanka, Aug 10, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan war planes bombed Tamil Tiger positions as the two sides shelled each other around a disputed waterway near here Thursday, leaving at least two soldiers dead and 26 wounded.

“We are on a defensive operation,” spokesman Upali Rajapakse said. “We had to retaliate when our troops came under heavy attack this morning.’

But the Tigers said it was the security forces who kept on attacking their positions.

“Five civilians were killed in an artillery attack carried out by the security forces on Wednesday evening,” Tiger spokesman S. Puleedevan, said accusing the military of sparking the latest clashes.

The guerrillas opened the sluice gates at Maavilaru releasing water to some 15,000 farming families downstream after a request from peace broker Norway, the Tigers said.

The rebels had closed the sluice gates on July 20, sparking the island’s bloodiest battle in four years which claimed over 440 lives and displaced tens of thousands of people.

The renewed fighting comes after rebels reopened the Maavilaru dam in the northeastern district of Trincomalee after a blockade that had sparked fierce clashes in which hundreds died.

The wounded troops