Sri Lankan soldiers shot and killed two suspected Tamil rebels

Sri Lankan soldiers on Monday shot and killed two suspected Tamil rebels during a cordon and search operation in the island nation's volatile east, where a pro-rebel parliamentarian was assassinated a day before, the Defense Ministry said. "When we were clearing an area ... two terrorists tried to attack our troops," military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said of the operation in the eastern city of Batticaloa.

Government troops fired at the alleged attackers, killing both of them, he said. During a Christmas service in the same city, unidentified gunmen shot and killed the pro-rebel parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham, 71.

Batticaloa has been the site of frequent skirmishes between rebel factions. Both the government and the rebels have blamed each other for that attack. The rebels want to create a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's 3.2 million ethnic Tamils in the northeast, reports the AP. I.L.

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