Fresh fighting kills 19 in Sri Lanka: Military | india | Hindustan Times
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Fresh fighting kills 19 in Sri Lanka: Military

india Updated: Dec 05, 2006 13:10 IST

At least 19 people have been killed in fresh violence in Sri Lanka as peace broker Norway cancelled a meeting with Tamil Tiger rebels, defence officials said on Tuesday.

Two soldiers and 15 rebels were killed in a confrontation in the eastern district of Batticaloa on Monday while 19 troopers were also wounded, the defence ministry said.

Two Muslim civilians were shot dead in the northern town of Vavuniya on Monday evening, officials said.

The reports of fresh fighting came as a top Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer cancelled a scheduled meeting Tuesday with the political leadership of the Tigers in the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi.

Hanssen-Bauer put off the meet after Colombo asked him not to go ahead until the government here reviewed its relations with the Tigers following Friday's suicide bomb attack against defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet website said the Sri Lankan government had scuttled the peace initiative by asking Oslo to suspend its contacts with the rebels.

The government is also considering reactivating the tough Prevention of Terrorism Act after the suicide bombing attempt against Rajapaksa, the younger brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

There has not yet been any official comment from the LTTE, although last week Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran wrote off four years of peace talks by saying the Oslo-brokered truce was "defunct".

The toughened government stand comes after months of worsening violence and growing pressure from nationalists and key allies of the government to declare the Tamil Tiger rebels a terrorist group.

The Tamil Tigers have been campaigning for independence for the island's minority 2.5 million Tamil community in the majority Sinhalese nation of 19.5 million people.

More than 3,400 people have been killed by the conflict in Sri Lanka in the past year, and the bitter ethnic conflict has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972.

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