Sri Lanka
Fighting escalates in Sri Lanka, 16 killed
May 2, 2007 - 6:38:44 PM

Colombo, May 2 - At least 16 people including two civilians and a paramilitary guard were killed in sporadic clashes in the north and eastern parts of the country where fighting has escalated, military officials said Wednesday.

A rebel riding on a bicycle Wednesday shot dead a paramilitary guard in Eravur as he was escorting a police vehicle, a military official said.

The victim was identified as Mohamed Faum, 31.

Police in Vavuniya found the bullet-riddled bodies of two minority Tamil civilians on Wednesday morning, the official said.

In the same area a claymore mine weighing five kg set up on the roadside was found by the police, a military officer based in the north said.

At least 10 rebels were killed Tuesday in Mannar in a clash close to the military forward-defence lines in the area.

In a separate incident three rebels were killed in a clash at Welioya Tuesday evening.

The renewed fighting came as the country was marking a holiday and conducting religious ceremonies for the Wesak festival to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. Over 70 percent of the country's 20 million population is Buddhist.

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