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Autonomy Plan's OK Fails to End Sri Lanka Fighting

November 14, 1987|From Reuters

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Indian troops killed 13 Tamil guerrillas and lost two soldiers Friday as fighting continued in north Sri Lanka despite approval for government plans to grant the Tamils limited autonomy, state radio said.

It said 23 rebels were captured and a large number of arms and ammunition were seized during the operations in Jaffna Peninsula, where Tamil guerrillas have been battling for a separate homeland for the past four years.

An Indian peacekeeping force of more than 20,000 troops posted in the north and east of the island has been fighting to disarm the Tamil guerrillas since Oct. 10.

Police said an indefinite curfew was imposed Friday in the eastern areas of Batticaloa, Kalmunai, Samanturai, Akkaraipattu and Pottuvil, where the Indian troops were hunting rebels.

Quoting rebel sources, the Press Trust of India said that 18 Indian soldiers captured by the Tigers during an assault on Jaffna would be released over the weekend.

In southern Sri Lanka, angry Sinhalese hard-liners cut down trees and set up roadblocks Friday to protest government plans to grant the Tamils limited autonomy.

Police said members of the outlawed People's Liberation Front also threatened villagers in the south and took their knives and guns.

Police said the front was attempting to bolster its arsenals by taking weapons from the military, police and private citizens.

The front was banned in 1983 for suspected involvement in anti-Tamil riots and has been blamed by the government for this week's violent protests against the laws designed to set up semiautonomous provincial councils.

125 Dead

Ethnic violence across the island killed more than 125 people this week as Parliament passed legislation Thursday granting limited autonomy to the Tamil minority.

The laws would implement part of an accord signed by President Junius R. Jayewardene and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in July aimed at ending a four-year Tamil rebellion.

A military spokesman said 25 people, all Tamils, were killed Thursday night when Tamil militants set off a land mine under a bus at Cheddikulam, in the northwestern district of Mannar.

The spokesman said Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrillas, who have repudiated the pact, were responsible for the blast.

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