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Tension soars in Sri Lanka

Attempts by peace broker Norway to get the Lankan government and Tamil rebels to resume ceasefire talks remain inconclusive.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2006 19:16 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Tension gripped Sri Lanka's north-eastern Trincomalee district on Tuesday after an overnight killing of a hotel owner police say was designed to provoke inter-communal riots.

The man was gunned down around midnight on the same day suspected Tamil Tiger rebels hacked to death a mother feeding her baby, police said.

"The latest victim has been supporting Sinhalese associations in Trincomalee," a local police officer said by telephone.

"This killing is adding to the tension and we have stepped up security."

The man was gunned down despite a night curfew across the region, police said.

The mother was chopped to pieces at Seeruwila, also in Trincomalee, in one of the most gruesome killings in recent times, defence ministry spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said.

"This is a killing clearly aimed at provoking a communal backlash. They want to create a refugee situation," he said of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The Tigers shot dead six farmers from the majority Sinhalese community in the same area late on Sunday.

There was no immediate reaction from the guerrillas.

Attempts by peace broker Norway to get the government and Tamil rebels to resume ceasefire talks remain inconclusive, with special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer pursuing meetings.

The Tigers have indefinitely put off the talks citing violence and logistical hurdles. The February 2002 ceasefire has come under renewed pressure after a spate of bomb attacks in the past two weeks.

At least 70 people have been killed in bombings alone while Tamil rebels say 70 civilians were slain by pro-government militia or by security forces, a charge denied by the military.

First Published: Apr 25, 2006 10:28 IST