Sri Lankan troops and Tigers trade artillery fire across front line

May 16, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger rebels exchanged artillery fire across a truce line in the northern peninsula of Jaffna Tuesday, military officials said. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fired across the army-held line at Nagarkovil and wounded at least two soldiers, the officials said.

“The firefight lasted about 10 to 15 minutes,” one official said. “We don’t know the casualties on the other side.”

The artillery duel came as the government traded charges with Tiger rebels over the killing of 13 Tamil civilians at the weekend, amid escalating violence in the restive northern region.

The government “strongly condemned” Saturday’s night murder of Tamils in the navy-controlled islet of Kayts and pointed a finger at the LTTE.

The LTTE in turn blamed the navy for killing the civilians in an area where it said the guerrillas had no access. More than 200 people have died over the past month despite a four-year truce between government forces and the rebels, in an ethnic conflict that has claimed over 60,000 lives since 1972.