In Sri Lanka, a New Eelam War?

In Sri Lanka, a New Eelam War?

NEW DELHI, India - Amid mixed reports of a rebel withdrawal and relative calm, there continue to be fierce and bloody clashes on the island nation of Sri Lanka between military forces of the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), commonly known as the Tamil Tigers.

Some analysts have begun dubbing the ongoing violence the beginning of 'Eelam War IV' -- a reference to the repeated failure of peace talks in the 20-year-old civil war in the tiny country off India's southern tip. But Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa continues to deny such, saying instead that government forces have merely been engaged in recent "defensive action to thwart rebel offensives."

Rajapaksa's position, however, appears to contradict that of his own military. Sources in the Sri Lankan military boasted Aug. 19 that 80 Tamil Tigers had been killed during a prolonged 48-hour period of artillery fire in the Muhammalai area of Sri Lanka's Jaffna peninsula, a northern corner of the island where the Tigers have long been active. Several Sri Lankan government soldiers reportedly also were killed and a dozen wounded by Tiger attacks during the clash, although numbers were not specific.

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