Tamil Tiger rebels on Friday accused Sri Lanka's government of backing assailants who assassinated a rebel officer just hours after the two sides agreed to restart peace talks, but the military denied involvement in the ambush. The slaying Thursday of rebel Maj. Kapilan, who goes by one name, was reported by the pro-rebel Web site TamilNet, citing rebel officials who questioned the government's commitment to this week's agreement to restart peace talks that have been stalled since 2003.
TamilNet said "paramilitary cadres" and agents working for Sri Lanka's military intelligence ambushed and killed Kapilan with rocket-propelled grenades and wounded one other rebel on Thursday while they rode on a tractor in a rebel-held area of eastern Sri Lanka.
The region is home to a breakaway rebel group that split from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in March 2004. The Tigers accuse the military of aiding the breakaway faction. However, the military disavowed any involvement in Thursday's ambush.
"Our armed forces were not involved in any way," military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said. "We do not back any group." Rebel peace negotiator S. Puleedevan was quoted by TamilNet as saying the attack threw doubt on whether the government was serious when it agreed less than 24 hours earlier to restart peace talks.
"Despite the gesture of goodwill already expressed by" the Tamil Tigers, "the attack on our cadres in the east continues," Puleedevan said, adding that the government was playing a "double game,” reports the AP. I.L.
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