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Violence erupts in Sri Lanka as deal over peace talks fails

Violence erupts in Sri Lanka as deal over peace talks fails

Heavy fighting erupted in Sri Lanka yesterday with the military reporting the recovery of 22 dead bodies of Tamil rebels after a Norwegian envoy failed to secure a deal on re-launching peace talks.
Government forces repulsed a major Tamil Tiger offensive against defense lines in Mankerni in the coastal district of Batticaloa, a military official in the area said by telephone.
"We have recovered the bodies of 22 Tiger cadres and they may have suffered more casualties," he said. "We have about five soldiers seriously wounded."
The flare-up came a day after Norway's peace envoy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, left the island after failing to seal an agreement on a venue to resume peace negotiations between the two sides.
However, peace brokers were expected back in Sri Lanka shortly to try and revive the process after the government announced it was "accommodating" the Tigers to advance the suggested date for talks to October 28.
There was no immediate word on the latest fighting from the Tigers but the military said the guerrillas had fired artillery, mortars and automatic assault riles against military bases during the pre-dawn assault.
Israeli-built Kfir jets hit suspected Tiger locations at Kathiraveli, just north of the Mankerni army defenses, on Thursday night, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The LTTE had moved long-range artillery away from the neighboring Trincomalee district following a major military offensive there last month and were now targeting army positions in Batticaloa, the ministry said.
The government's top official coordinating with Norway, Palitha Kohona, said he expected the Norwegians to return to carry the government's message of agreeing to start talks on October 28 to the Tigers.
The Norwegians were expected to try and finalize a site after Colombo called for talks in Switzerland while the guerrillas demanded Oslo.
Sri Lanka's ruling party allies have accused Norway of siding with the Tigers and opposed any discussions in Oslo, demanding a neutral venue.
Even if the two sides agree on a date and a location, there are no guarantees that the talks will take off.
In June, the two sides went to Oslo with a promise to start talks, but refused across a table to thrash out their differences after the Tigers claimed that the government delegation lacked a minister and was too junior.


Updated : 2021-08-03 22:04 GMT+08:00