Strike grips Lanka's North East amid tension
A strike gripped Sri Lanka's restive North East on Friday as Tamil Tiger rebels and the Colombo government traded allegations of reneging on their latest pledges to uphold a troubled truce.
Shops and offices shut in the district of Trincomalee in response to the one-day strike called by a Tamil Tiger rebel front organisation, local residents and officials said.
They said the Pongu Thamil organisation, which ordered the strike to protest alleged truce violations by security forces, is a front of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Tension has been rising in the troubled region, with the guerrillas accusing the military of building new bunkers in violation of their four-year-old truce.
The group said the strike is to protest what it claimed are ongoing truce violations by government forces, including the building of bunkers and harassment of civilians by troops.
The defence ministry, meanwhile, said Tiger guerrillas fired small arms at a military camp in the area late on Thursday, but there were no casualties.
The two sides during their talks in Switzerland last month agreed to scale down violence and meet again in April to discuss the implementation of their tenuous truce that has been in place since February 2002.
The Swiss talks were held after a spike in violence claimed at least 153 lives between December and January.
More than 60,000 people have been killed in Sri Lanka's drawn-out Tamil separatist conflict.