Sri Lanka navy denies Tiger rebel claim of attack on villages

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe (2nd R) arrives to visit the site of a bomb attack at St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade in Colombo on April 21, 2019. - A string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on April 21, killing at least 156 people, including 35 foreigners. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mar 216 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s navy denied a charge by Tamil Tigers Tuesday that it fired indiscriminately at rebel-held villages in the northeast, saying the incident was a retaliatory strike. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said the navy launched an attack on four villages in the Trincomalee district on Monday morning.

“From 11:00 am on Monday, Sri Lanka navy continued its attack with artillery from large naval boats along the coast,” the LTTE said in a statement.

It said a child was wounded and an unspecified number of homes were damaged.

The Sri Lankan military however said it carried out a retaliatory strike after a naval craft came under fire from guns within a rebel-held area of the district.

“Sri Lanka navy craft acted in self defence and fired a few rounds towards the originating point (of the fire) to neutralise it,” the navy statement said.

There have been sporadic skirmishes despite agreement by both sides last month to scale down violence ahead of another round of talks at a venue in Switzerland next month on saving their troubled truce.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in Sri Lanka’s drawn-out Tamil separatist conflict and fou