Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels kill soldier in attack on eastern Sri Lanka

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels killed a soldier in an attack on an eastern Sri Lanka military checkpoint, the Defense Ministry said Friday, a day after a Norwegian peace broker urged the rebels to try and save a 2002 cease-fire and stop the country sliding back into war. A group of rebels surrounded the checkpoint in Santhiveli village in the eastern district of Batticaloa on Thursday night and attacked with grenades and rifles, said military spokesman Brig. Nalin Witharanage.

Pvt. Dilanga Dissanayake was hurt in the attack and died later in a hospital, Witharanage said.

No comment from the rebels was immediately available. Northeastern Sri Lanka has remained a hotbed of violence, with almost daily killings despite a cease-fire signed by the government and Tamil Tigers in 2002.

Hundreds of people including civilians, Tigers and politicians who oppose them have died in the violence, with the government and the rebels blaming each other for the killings.

Batticaloa, the main town in eastern Sri Lanka, is 220 kilometers (135 miles) east of capital, Colombo.

On Thursday, retired Norwegian Gen. Trond Furuhovde urged the Tigers' political wing leader, S.P. Thamilselvan to revive stalled peace talks with the government.

Furuhovde met with Thamilselvan in the northern rebel-held town of Kilinochchi, according to a pro-Tiger Web site.

The Tamil Tigers began fighting the government in 1983 to try creating a separate state for Sri Lanka's ethnic minority Tamils, accusing majority Sinhalese of discrimination. Tamils form the majority in the northeast, reports the AP. I.L.

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