Fighting in Sri Lanka as Co-chairs meet LTTE | india | Hindustan Times
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Fighting in Sri Lanka as Co-chairs meet LTTE

Officials are tight lipped on the meeting between LTTE peace negotiators and envoys of the Co-Chairs, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Nov 02, 2006 18:35 IST

Artillery, mortar and air action took place in Eastern Sri Lanka on Wednesday, even as envoys of the European Union, Japan and Norway were having discussions with the LTTE at the Colombo international airport.

Officials were tight lipped on the meeting between the LTTE's peace delegation and the envoys of the Co-Chairs of the Tokyo donors' conference, who are the "international community" in the Sri Lankan peace process.

Unofficial sources told Hindustan Times that the envoys were trying to convince the LTTE to exercise restraint and not to resort to war following the breakdown of the talks at Geneva on October 29.

The Norwegian peace broker, Erik Solheim, had said the same thing in Geneva after the breakdown of the talks.

He had urged the parties to recognise that all was not lost and refrain from taking any precipitate action.

However, fighting had begun in the Eastern sector in right earnest.

The Sri Lankan National Security website said that Air Force jets had to carry out raids in the eastern district of Batticaloa because the LTTE was firing artillery and mortars at Army positions in Kadjuwatte and Mankerni.

Mankerni and Kadjuwatte are on the border between Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts, which had seen heavy fighting in the past two months.

Further north in Trincomalee district, the LTTE fired mortars and artillery at the Army's Forward Defence Lines at Mavil Aaru and Mahindapura.

The Army retaliated in kind to neutralise the enemy's guns.

The government website further said that LTTE cadres who had surrendered recently, told interrogators that the rebels were building up their military capability in the Vaharai and Kadirveli areas as they had vowed to recover territories they had lost in the recent military operations.

In the operations, which began at the end of July, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces had driven the LTTE out from Mavil Aaru, Mutur, Mahindapura, Kattaiparichchan and Sampur, all in Trincomalee district.

The LTTE is still holding on to Vaharai, but it is likely that the Sri Lankan Army and Navy, assisted by the Air Force, will make a determined bid to take this strategic coastal town. In a sense, Vaharai is a gateway to Batticaloa district.

Batticaloa district is partly with the government and partly with the LTTE.

The capture of Vaharai by Prabhakaran's troops in April 2004 sealed the fate of Karuna, who had rebelled against him a month earlier.

Currently, Vaharai is providing refuge to about 20,000 Tamil refugees from Mutur and Sampur.

They are said to live in appalling conditions under trees and on waterlogged land.

Since international aid workers are not encouraged by the Sri Lankan government to work in the Tamil-speaking North-East, there is a severe food shortage in the refugee settlements in Vaharai.