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SL Army moves rockets, mortars to Jaffna

The Tigers have warned they will withdraw from a 2002 Norwegian-brokered ceasefire if the Govt continues to attack rebel positions.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2006 19:08 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

The Sri Lankan Army has rushed rockets, mortar shells and other military hardware to its forward defence lines in the besieged Jaffna Peninsula, a pro-Tamil Tiger rebel website claimed, as a soldier died in continued fighting.

Truck loads of military hardware were moved Monday from Palali, the army's main Jaffna base, closer to areas in the south of the peninsula which are controlled by the Tamil Tiger rebels, Tamilnet reported late on Monday.

"Consignments of artillery ammunition, mortar shells, and rockets were rushed in heavy military vehicles" to several areas along the defence lines, the Web site reported.

Meanwhile, a soldier was killed late Monday when the rebels fired mortars across the forward defence line around the area of Muhamalai in Jaffna, the Media Center for National Security said. Two other soldiers were wounded.

The military controls almost all of the Jaffna Peninsula, but small pockets are under rebel control, and fighting since August 12 has cut off a major highway linking it to the mainland.

The allegation comes after the rebels' political wing said at the weekend that reliable intelligence suggests the military is preparing to launch a major attack on rebel and civilian settlements in the north under a scorched-earth policy.

The military declined to comment Tuesday on the latest report, but has previously said that it only retaliates if attacked.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa warned Monday that the government would be "compelled to take appropriate counter measures" to ensure security if Tamil Tiger rebels continue to launch attacks.

But the president said the government remained committed to peace talks with the rebels, scheduled to be held in Switzerland in late October.

The statement came after Rajapakse met Monday with ambassadors from the countries backing Sri Lanka's peace process-- Japan, the United States, Norway and members of the European Union.

The Tigers have warned they will withdraw from a 2002 Norwegian-brokered ceasefire if the government continues to attack rebel positions.

Dozens of army personnel and rebels have been killed since last week in fighting in northeastern Sri Lanka.

About 1,500 people have died in increasingly heavy fighting since the last round of peace talks in Geneva in February.

Norwegian peace envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer last week intensified efforts to restart Sri Lankan peace talks and end months of bloodshed.

He held separate talks with government representatives and Tamil rebels to try and bring the two sides back to the negotiating table.

First Published: Oct 10, 2006 12:12 IST