Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels killed 10 soldiers in Sri Lanka

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels killed 10 soldiers in the island's far north on Tuesday in the second mine attack in less than a week, the military said. The attack came on the heels of a string of deadly guerrilla ambushes on the military, raising fears that the country will be plunged back into a two-decade civil war that killed over 64,000 people before a 2002 truce.

"It was a claymore attack," said military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe, referring to the claymore fragmentation mines used in the assault near the northern town of Point Pedro.

"Definitely the LTTE is behind this attack," he said, using the initials of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. "No-one else is capable of doing this kind of claymore mine attack in Jaffna except the LTTE."

A military official said four other soldiers were admitted to hospital after the attack, some in critical condition. On Friday 13 sailors were killed in an ambush by suspected Tiger rebels using claymore mines and rocket-propelled grenades in the island's northwest. The attack prompted major aid donors Japan, the European Union and Norway to send a senior delegation for emergency talks with the Tigers.

Two days later Joseph Pararajasingam, a member of parliament for the Tamil National Alliance, the rebels' proxies in parliament, was assassinated at a Christmas mass in the restive eastern district of Batticaloa.

Sri Lanka's stock market <.CSE> was around 6.0 percent lower at midsession on Tuesday as the surge in violence prompted small investors to sell stocks across the board and kept big investors on the sidelines.

The Tigers threatened in November to resume their armed struggle to carve out a homeland for ethnic Tamils in the north and east unless they were given wide political powers in about 15 percent of the country where they run a de facto state.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is allied to hardline Marxists and Buddhists who refuse any concessions for the rebels, has ruled out the idea of a Tamil homeland, reports Reuters. I.L.

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