Tigers accuse Sri Lanka of scuttling Norway peace bid, toll mounts

Chandi Dharmaratne

Sept 10, 2006 (AFP) – Troops and Tamil Tigers fought fierce battles in northern Sri Lanka Sunday, leaving scores killed, officials said as the rebels accused Colombo of ignoring moves by Norway to end the latest bloodshed. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they were in talks with peace broker Norway to withdraw from a strategic coastal town in the island’s north-east last week when the military mounted an offensive.

“The LTTE was ready to move weapons from Sampur if the government ceased all shelling and aerial bombardments,” the Tigers said.

“While the negotiations were in progress (through Norway), the government of Sri Lanka launched its onslaught for occupation.”

Security forces last week captured Sampur, a key artillery base from which the Tigers hit the north-eastern port of Trincomalee, the starting point for all military sea transport to the Jaffna peninsula.

There was no immediate reaction to the latest LTTE statement either from the Colombo government or the Norwegians.

However, the Tigers said heavy fighting raged in Jaffna on Sunday, but gave no details.

Mortar and artillery duels along a de facto frontline on the contested peninsula killed 28 government soldiers and