Rebels Attack Sri Lankan Naval Base

Casualty reports differ; open civil war looms as truce continues to fray
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2007 10:27 AM CDT
Sri Lankan army soldiers patrol a street close to the site of an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 24, 2007. Tamil rebels ambushed a navy camp in northern Sri Lanka and killed 35 sailors...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Tamil Tiger rebels overran a naval base in northern Sri Lanka today, killing an undetermined number of sailors and aggravating concerns that civil war threatens the island nation. The Tigers said the fighting lasted 20 minutes and they "found 35 bodies"; the Sri Lankan military reported fewer than 10 dead and said there weren't even 35 people on the base.

Other signs of escalating unrest include a bomb that killed a soldier on an army bus in Colombo and the Red Cross' withdrawal from checkpoints separating government- and rebel-controlled areas in the north. Strife between the government and the ethnic Tamil minority has persisted for 35 years; a truce in place since 2002 now appears to be collapsing.