Sri Lanka
Four Sri Lankan soldiers killed in clash with rebels
Mar 16, 2007 - 10:49:48 PM

Colombo, March 16 - At least four soldiers were killed and 12 sustained injuries in Sri Lanka's northern district of Vavuniya in a fight with Tamil Tiger rebels, defence officials said Friday.

Residents said there was a three-hour gunfire exchange between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - and the Sri Lankan Army at Omanthai in Vavuniya.

Rebel sources said that the military had tried to breach the forward defence line at Omanthai leading to rebel territory. The details of rebel casualties were not available.

Meanwhile, in the capital Colombo, steel traders - mostly from the minority Tamil community - staged a protest urging the police to stop continuous threat of ransom demands and attempt to abduct businessmen in the city.

The traders complain that they have faced ransom demands from armed groups and several businessmen had been kidnapped.

The police prevented them from leading a protest march after they shut down business in downtown Colombo Friday afternoon.

The international human rights watch groups have urged the government to stop numerous abductions and disappearances of civilians, mainly from the Tamil community.

The government last year had appointed a special presidential probe panel to investigate 15 cases of such human rights abuses.

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