COLOMBO, Aug 13, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger rebels traded artillery fire Sunday, a day after at least 177 people were killed in fierce battles, officials said, amid fears of a return to full-scale war. Security forces shelled positions held by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as sporadic face-to-face clashes continued in the northern Jaffna peninsula, a military official said.
“The security forces are conducting clearing operations and sporadic skirmishes are still taking place,” the official in Jaffna said when contacted by telephone.
The ongoing fighting in Jaffna, 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital, came after suspected Tiger gunmen shot dead a top government official working on the troubled Norwegian-backed peace process with the Tigers.
President Mahinda Rajapakse blamed the shooting on Saturday of Ketheesh Loganathan, the deputy secretary-general of the Peace Secretariat, on the LTTE although there was no claim of responsibility.
“The president condemns the assassination and says this is the work of the LTTE and shows how they are targeting members of the Tamil community who are working for peace,” presidential spokesman Chandrapala Liyanage told A