Fighting picks up in Eastern Sri Lanka despite peace efforts

Chandi Dharmaratne

Sept 24 (AFP) – Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan troops waged artillery duels Sunday in the embattled east, the military said, in continued fighting despite a push by Norway to restore a ceasefire ahead of talks. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fired artillery and mortar bombs at the Kiran and Vavunathivu army camps in the Batticaloa district, the defence ministry said in a statement.

“Tiger terrorists fired artillery and mortars for nearly two hours,” the statement said.

“Troops retaliated with artillery and mortars at the Tiger terrorist camps.”

The ministry said there were no casualties among security forces, but the guerrillas suffered unspecified damages. The statement could not be independently confirmed.

In neighbouring Ampara district, the rebels fired mortars at a police Special Task Force commando unit and wounded a guard, the statement said.

In another incident, two men detonated a hand grenade and killed themselves when troops attempted to arrest them for possessing firearms in the northwest Puttalam district, it said.

The latest violence came as Sri Lanka’s peace broker Norway continued an attempt announced earlier this month to arrange a face-to-face m