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Tamil Tiger Rebels Send Warning To Sri Lankan Government

  • VOA News

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels are threatening retaliation following a deadly clash with government forces along the country's northwestern coast.

More than 40 people died in the fighting on Saturday in the Mannar district. The dead include rebels, soldiers and civilians.

Rebel leaders have asked peacebroker, Norway, to convey their warning to the government which launched the attack in response to an attack on a passenger bus that killed 64 people on Thursday. The rebels deny involvement in the bus bombing.

Also on Saturday, government officials and rebels accused each other of attacking a church in Mannar where civilians had taken shelter.

In another development, officials say three suspected rebels dressed in diving suits were arrested while trying to lay mines in waters off the island's coast. Authorities say the three were taken to the hospital after taking cyanide to avoid arrest.

Sri Lankan aircraft bombed a key rebel stronghold near Kilinochchi Thursday and Friday, following a landmine blast on a passenger bus that killed 64 people Thursday.

The military blamed the attack on Sri Lanka's main rebel group, which has denied responsibility for the blast.

The recent unrest has raised concerns about Sri Lanka's faltering peace process. Rebel leaders say the air strikes indicate the government is ready for war.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has said he remains committed to the country's 2002 ceasefire agreement.

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