Sri Lanka bombs LTTE, aid workers seek access

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sri Lanka government jets bombed the LTTE on front lines in the battle for the Jaffna peninsula as fighting continued in the ethnic strife. The last week of fighting has claimed the lives of hundreds.

Government air strikes continued on targets in the northern rebel-held territory of Kilinochchi and near the eastern port town of Trincomalee.

The peninsula, which has largely been cut off form the outside world, has seen tens of thousands have flee their homes. There are shortages of food and lines for fuel.

During a brief break in the fighting, the UN tried to get food and water to some of the worst-off areas.

"We need both sides to stop fighting so we can get proper access to the area," said UNHCR representative Amin Awad. "Food is getting low and we have worries about water and sanitation."

The World Food Program said it was feeding more than 50,000 people in camps who fled fighting in and around Trincomalee, where there was only sporadic gunfire overnight.

The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is an ongoing conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils on the island-nation of Sri Lanka. Since the 1983 "Black July" pogrom, there has been on-and-off civil war, mostly between the government and the LTTE who want to create an independent state of called Tamil Eelam in the north and east of the island. It is estimated that the war has left 65,000 people dead since 1983 and caused great harm to the population and economy of the country. A cease-fire was declared in 2002, but hostilities renewed in late 2005 following military operations against Tiger-controlled territory in the east.