Source AP ©

Sri Lankan jets bomb rebel positions

Tamil Tiger rebels fatally shot four ethnic Sinhalese rice farmers in their paddies. After that Sri Lankan fighter jets bombed two their positions.

Air force targeted a place where Tamil Tigers gathered for meetings in Puthikudiyiruppu village in rebel stronghold Mullaitivu district, a defense official said.

Minutes later the air force also bombed a rebel position west of the rebels' de facto capital, Kilinochchi, the official said on condition of anonymity because of government policy.

The official did not identify the second target and said it is unclear if there were any casualties in either attack.

Earlier Monday, the gunshot-riddled bodies of the farmers, three men and a woman, were discovered near the farming village of Mahavilachchiya in the Anuradhapura district just south of rebel-controlled territory in the north, the military said in a statement.

Authorities believed the rebels fled into the jungle after the attack, and security forces were searching the area for the assailants, the military said.

Separately, army troops and guerrillas fought four gunbattles in the northern districts of Jaffna and Vavuniya on Monday, killing seven rebels, the defense ministry official said.

Tamil Tiger spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not answer repeated calls from The Associated Press seeking comment. Details of the fighting could not be independently verified because access to the area is restricted.

The rebels have fought the government since 1983 to create an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils after decades of discrimination from governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority.

Mahavilachchiya lies on the edge of Wilpattu National Park where four soldiers and four wildlife department employees were killed in a rebel attack in March.

The park, which borders the conflict zone, was closed after fighting erupted in the 1980s, but was partly reopened after a 2002 cease-fire.

A spike in violence since December 2005 has killed more than 5,000 people. More than 70,000 people have been killed since the conflict began.

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