War fears ease as fighting stops over Sri Lanka canal

Aug 9, 2006 (AFP) – Water flowed down a disputed canal in Sri Lanka Wednesday after peace broker Norway defused the island’s bloodiest battle in four years and averted a return to civil war, residents and officials said. Norway’s special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer arranged for the Tamil Tiger rebels to end a water blockade at the root of the latest bloodshed that claimed 440 lives by official count, rebel spokesman Velayudan Dayanidi said.

“We opened the sluice gates at Maavilaru following a request from Norway,” he said, referring to weekend talks with Hanssen-Bauer aimed at stopping the government and the guerrillas drifting back into full-scale war.

Residents in Trincomalee district said water began flowing down the Maavilaru canal after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) announced on Tuesday that they were lifting a blockade imposed on July 20.
Tiger spokesman S. Puleedevan said troops carried out two Claymore mine attacks inside rebel-held territory and killed five people shortly after the water blockade ended.

“An ambulance was blown up in the first attack with five people killed there and in the second attack, also in the same area, four people had a narrow escape,” Puleedevan told AFP from the r