Tamil rebels kill government soldier in northern Sri Lanka

Suspected Tamil rebels attacked an army patrol in northern Sri Lanka, killing one soldier, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday. Military spokesman Brig. Nalin Witharanage said the soldiers were on patrol in the northern town of Jaffna late Tuesday when they were ambushed from inside a Hindu temple.

One soldier was wounded and died en route to a hospital, he added. Tamil Tiger officials were not immediately available for comment. Since Dec. 4, a total of 19 government soldiers have died in attacks blamed on the rebels, putting a 2002 Norway-brokered cease-fire between the government and the rebels under heavy strain.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels launched a violent campaign against the government in 1983 demanding a separate state for ethnic Tamils, accusing majority Sinhalese of discrimination. About 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before the cease-fire. Subsequent peace talks broke down in 2003 when the Tigers withdrew demanding sweeping autonomy to the Tamil-majority northeastern region.

Norway, Japan, European Union and the United States on Monday demanded an end to rebel violence and urged both sides to resume peace talks, reports the AP. I.L.

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