Troops secure town captured from Tiger control in eastern Sri Lanka

Sept 5 (AFP) – Hundreds of Sri Lankan troops worked Tuesday to clear mines and booby-trapped devices from a town they captured from Tamil Tiger guerrillas after weeks of fighting, military officials said. Fighting in Sri Lanka has intensified since December, shattering hopes for the ceasefire to continue and leaving more than 1,500 dead, according to official figures. Security forces moved cautiously to inspect buildings and bunkers in Sampur, a former artillery base of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam used to attack the naval port of Trincomalee, officials there said.

“There are some bunkers and fortified positions of the Tigers which have not been cleared yet,” a military official in Trincomalee said when contacted by telephone.

The defence ministry said troops moved into the area Monday to secure neighbouring areas for civilians to return to homes abandoned last month when fighting escalated in the region.

“To secure Trincomalee and encourage the people to return to their former homes it was necessary for the security forces, again for humanitarian reasons, to take control of Sampur to provide security to the people,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

President Mahinda Ra