BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka,Feb. 14, Reuter: Residents of this Eastern Sri Lankan town Said Indian peacekeeping forces and Tamil rebels fought a fierce gun battle near here on Sunday in which 12 rebels were killed.

Residents at Batticaloa said the clash occurred at Eravur, 15 km north of here, while soldiers were searching for rebels. No other details were available.

In Colombo Indian High Commission and Sri Lankan security officials could not confirm the incident.

‘An indefinite curfew imposed on Friday in Batticaloa continued as Indian soldiers pressed a head on Sunday with a house to house search through the town. At least $20 suspected rebels have been detained so far.

Security source to Colombo said the curfew would be lifted for a few house of Monday to enable resident to buy food and other essentials ahead of a Hindu festival on Tuesday.

Indian soldier ne east are hunting Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrillas who have refused to abide by a peace accord, The Tigers lost their northern Jaffna stronghold in a bloody battle last October.

Fifty thousand Indian troops have been deployed in the north and east to enforce the accord, which is aimed at ending five years of Tamil separatist violence.

Batticaloa residents said 1.500 to 2.000 Tamils, some carrying rice in plastic bags and water in whisky bottles, lined up at the town’s stadium on Sunday to let an informer attempt to spot Tiger rebels.

Five men suspected of belonging to the group were detained after the informer. Hidden inside a tent in the stadium, pointed them out to Indian military officials during an identification parade.

A thousand soldiers were seen walking on Sunday morning near the lagoon dividing the town of 150,000 people. The soldiers fanned out into groups of six to 15 men each.

Our group has completed 55 houses today said one Indian searcher, another said there were about 20 search teams spread out in the town.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 19, 1988