B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: At least six persons including two military personnel and a suspected LTTE cadre were killed on Friday in continuing clashes between the Sri Lanka military and Tamil Tigers.

The military said a sailor was killed during an exchange of fire near a mosque in Mannar town in the morning and accused the LTTE cadre of a deliberate attempt to provoke the security forces near the religious place.

According to the military, the LTTE has been trying to draw the armed forces into a fight near places of worship in recent days.

"The LTTE's plan was to blame the Government, if any civilians were killed in the confrontation", Prasad Samarasinghe, the army spokesman said. Brig. Samarasinghe said a naval sailor, in a retaliatory attack, gunned down the LTTE member.

In northern Jaffna, suspected rebels opened fire on an army patrol, killing one soldier, the army spokesman said.

In another development, TamilNet reported that suspected soldiers and paramilitaries had shot dead a Jaffna resident Sathasivam Mathuri, and seriously injured her father Kasipillai Sathasivam on Thursday night.

It said Mr. Sathasivam is the father of a senior Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) commander Archuna, who died in mid 80's in Mannar.