Attacks leave 11 rebels, three cops dead in Sri Lanka

Ampara, September 30 :

Sri Lanka’s elite police force ambushed a group of Tamil Tiger rebels moving to attack a police checkpoint in the east, killing 11 insurgents, while a separate bomb attack killed three policemen, officials said.

“We received intelligence that the LTTE was planning to attack a police check point,” said Special Task Force official EH Jayaweera. He used the initials of the rebels’ formal name, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

“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 attack took place in Pullumalai in eastern Ampara district, 220 km east of capital, Colombo.

The Media Center for National Security initially had earlier said 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 WA Ranjith said the rebels have requested that the bodies be handed over to them through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Elsewhere, in northwestern Mannar district, 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.

Heavy fighting in recent months has imperiled a Norwegian-brokered cease-fire that was signed in 2002 and aimed at ending 19 years of fighting between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

More than 1,000 combatants and civilians have been killed in the fighting in the past

few months.

Tamil Tiger rebels have fought the government since 1983 to create a separate state for the country’s 3.1 million Tamils following decades of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese-dominated state. More than 66,000 people have been killed in the conflict.