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S.Lanka at war with Tiger rebels -monitor

Written by: Staff
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COLOMBO, May 13 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's military and the island's Tamil Tiger rebels are locked in a low intensity war despite a ceasefire that still technically holds on paper, the head of the unarmed Nordic truce monitors today said.

''You could in some definition say we already have a war. We don't have a peace agreement, we have a ceasefire agreement. So there is a war ongoing. It is a low intensity war. You can say that,'' said Major General Ulf Henricsson, head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.

Henricsson's comments came after the government bombed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) territory in the island's north on Thursday after the rebels attacked a navy flotilla and killed 17 sailors in the worst military clash since the 2002 ceasefire.

He dismissed a threat by the Tigers that warned his monitors to stay off navy vessels or face the consequences in any future attacks, saying his 60-strong team would continue to do their job.

''I make my own decision on this matter, and I think their warning, as they call it, is more or less a threat and (the naval attack was) a clear violation of the ceasefire agreement,'' he added.

Thursday's clash followed on the heels of a suspected rebel assassination attempt on Sri Lanka's army commander in April, which was followed by aerial bombing of Tiger positions in the east, and by a series of deadly ambushes on the military.

It also comes after a rash of extrajudicial killings of Tamil civilians, some of which Henricsson believes troops have been involved in.

REUTERS OM BD1440

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