Sri Lanka attacks leave 11 rebels dead -
10-02-2006, 01:58 PM
Sat Sep 30, 6:16 PM ET
AMPARA, Sri Lanka - Sri Lankan forces on Saturday ambushed a group of Tamil Tiger rebels allegedly planning to attack a police checkpoint in the east, killing 11 insurgents, while a separate bomb attack killed three policemen, officials said.
The attack by Sri Lanka's elite police force against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam took place in Pullumalai in eastern Ampara district, 130 miles east of capital, Colombo.
"We received intelligence that the LTTE was planning to attack a police checkpoint," Special Task Force official E.H. Jayaweera said.
"We pulled out our regular police and laid in ambush," Jayaweera told The Associated Press. He said task force members fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades in a pre-emptive attack, killing 11 guerrillas.
The Media Center for National Security said earlier that 12 rebels were killed.
Jayaweera said two task force personnel were injured in rebel attacks.
Later the rebels' bodies, most in the Tigers' camouflaged uniforms, were displayed to the public at a hospital morgue in the town of Mahiyangana.
Policeman W.A Ranjith said the rebels have requested that the bodies be handed over to them through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Tamil Tiger official Rasiah Ilanthirayan acknowledged 11 Tiger fighters had been killed.
But in a statement to the pro-rebel TamilNet Web site, Ilanthirayan accused the task force of ambushing the fighters inside rebel territory, in violation of a 2002 truce.
In the northwestern Mannar district, meanwhile, a bomb killed three policemen, the government's Media Center for national security said.
The violence took place as Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer was preparing to visit Sri Lanka on Monday for talks with government and Tamil Tiger leaders on the progress of the country's peace process.
Sri Lanka's top peace negotiator Palitha Kohona said he hopes the Tamil Tigers will return to peace talks in October and recognize that they won't achieve their dream of independence through violence and must negotiate a political settlement.
"The government has repeatedly stated that it will return to the negotiating table," Kohona told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday at U.N. headquarters in New York. "It has encouraged the Norwegians to get more actively involved in facilitating the next meeting, and it certainly will go to the negotiations."
"The only concern it has is that ... the Tigers will not use any lull, or any cessation in hostilities to regroup and rearm," as they have done in the past, Kohona said.