Lankan forces harassing civilians: LTTE

Updated on Jan 28, 2006 06:54 PM IST

The accusation came despite this week's breakthrough in the stalled peace process between Sri Lankan Govt and the rebels.

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None | ByAgence France-Presse, Colombo

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels on Saturday accused government forces of harassing civilians despite this week's breakthrough in their stalled peace process.

The LTTE said government troops had conducted a cordon-and-search operation in the northern Jaffna peninsula on Friday, despite Wednesday's agreement to hold face-to-face talks next month.

The charge was made as the LTTE's London-based chief negotiator Anton Balasingham returned home on Saturday after five days on consultations with Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Prabhakaran and Balasingham told Norway's special peace envoy Erik Solheim on Wednesday they were ready to end the near three-year deadlock in the peace process by agreeing to meet with government officials in Geneva next month.

The talks are aimed at cementing a shaky ceasefire put in place in 2002.

The government had expressed "major relief" over this week's deal for a face-to-face meeting to stem a wave of killings that has left at least 153 people dead since December.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in the Tamil separatist conflict and four previous attempts at peace have ended in failure.

Despite a scaling down of recent violence, the Tigers stepped up charges against the government, accusing it of intimidating civilians and of killing a rebel commander on Thursday.

There was no immediate formal reaction from the government.

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