Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels lobbed grenades at Sri Lankan army positions in the northeast, wounding at least three soldiers in violence that threatens the country's 4-year-old cease-fire, the Defense Ministry said Friday. Three units came under separate attacks within a span of one hour in the port city of Trincomalee on Thursday night. Three soldiers were wounded, the Defense Ministry said.
Trincomalee was tense on Thursday for the funeral of five ethnic Tamils who died earlier in the week. The military has said the men accidentally blew themselves up in a botched grenade attack on a military patrol, but the rebels said the men came under attack from government forces.
In a separate incident in the east, unidentified gunmen fatally shot a Tamil man who allegedly had links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, said an officer at the Defense Ministry's Media Unit, who cannot be named under military policy.
The east has been a hotbed of violence since the rebel movement split in 2004, sparking killings of members of rival factions. An increase of violence linked to the conflict between the rebels and government, and allegations of summary justice, have prompted the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to appoint a three-member team headed by retired high court judge T. Suntheralingam to report on the situation.
The panel is to begin work immediately, the state-run Daily News reported Friday. The rebels began fighting in 1983 for a separate homeland for the country's minority Tamils. A 2002 cease-fire halted the fighting but a wave of attacks over the past month in the country's northeast, most of them bombings and shootings targeting government soldiers, has seriously threatened the truce, reports the AP. I.L.