Aid workers demand help for thousands as air raids continue in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Aug 18, 2006 (AFP) – Government warplanes attacked Tamil Tiger targets in northern Sri Lanka Friday as aid workers demanded access to tens of thousands marooned by a week of fierce fighting that left 500 dead.

Government troops used a brief respite in heavy battles to consolidate defensive lines in the northern Jaffna peninsula as the UN tried to deliver food and water to some of the worst-hit parts.

The UN said Friday that more than 41,000 people — about a tenth of the population on the peninsula — were believed to have fled their homes and warned that supplies in the area had reached “alarmingly low levels”.

The defence ministry said Friday air strikes continued on targets in the northern rebel-held territory of Kilinochchi and near the eastern port town of Trincomalee.

Jaffna remained cut off from the rest of the island with the main access road shut owing to heavy fighting that erupted a week ago along the de facto front line in the peninsula.

Military sources said 100 guerrillas, seven soldiers and two officers were killed in clashes Thursday at Kilali on the peninsula.

It brought the week-long death total of rebels fighting for autonomy for the nation’s Tamil minority to ab

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