COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Three Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in a clash with the Sri Lankan navy on a northern islet, the military said on Sunday.
The rebels were killed Saturday evening on the island of Kayts, west of the Jaffna peninsula, an official at the Media Center for National Security said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
On Friday, the navy said it destroyed a rebel boat that attempted to enter a base near the island. The navy searched Kayts on Saturday and four Tiger rebels were killed in an ensuing sea battle, it said. Two bodies were recovered.
The fighting took place as Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer was preparing to visit Sri Lanka on Monday for talks with government and Tamil Tiger leaders on the progress of the country’s peace process.
Violence in recent months has killed more than 1,000 combatants and civilians in the country’s northeast, and a 2002 Norway-brokered cease-fire remains only on paper.
On Saturday, Sri Lanka’s elite police forces killed 11 rebels in a pre-emptive attack in the east, while three policemen were killed in a bomb explosion in the northwest.
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels have fought the government since 1983 to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils following decades of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese-dominated state.
More than 66,000 people have been killed in the conflict.