Norwegian negotiator to travel to Tamil Tiger rebel stronghold

A Norwegian negotiator was set to travel to a Tamil Tiger rebel stronghold on Thursday to try to save an increasingly shaky truce between the government and the guerrillas, an official said. Retired military Gen. Trond Furuhovde left the capital, Colombo, in a military helicopter along with human rights specialist Ian Martin, Norwegian Embassy spokeswoman Kjersti Tromsdal said.

The two were expected to meet the leader of the Tamil Tigers' political wing, S.P. Thamilselvan, amid escalating violence. Almost-daily killings in the ethnic Tamil-majority northeast have threatened the February 2002 truce that ended two decades of war.

The Tigers had fought the government since 1983 to create a separate nation for the country's Tamils, accusing the Sinhalese majority of discrimination. About 65,000 people died in the fighting.

Since the Norwegian-brokered cease-fire began, scores of people, including Tamil Tigers, politicians opposing them and civilians, have been killed. One of the casualties was Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, who was killed by suspected Tamil Tiger snipers on Aug. 12 at his fortified residence in Colombo.

The Tigers have denied involvement in Kadirgamar's assassination and other violence during the cease-fire.

Peace talks launched since the truce have stalled because of disagreements over postwar power-sharing between the government and the Tigers.

Furuhovde has been heavily involved in Sri Lanka's peace process, leading a team of European truce monitors during most of the cease-fire period, reports the AP. I.L.