The Sri Lankan army says both sides have stopped firing following the start of a two-day truce ordered by President Mahinda Rajapakse (photo) to mark the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and allow thousands of civilians to flee the conflict zone.
Sri Lanka's gov't announced a two-day ceasefire, starting on Monday, to allow thousands of civilians to move out of a no-fire zone where they're being held by the separatist Tamil Tigers. The military claims to be close to ousting the rebels.
The US, Britain, Japan and Norway - the four nations leading Sri Lanka’s peace process - called on the Tamil Tigers on Friday to free 100,000 civilians they are holding. They also asked the military to stop shelling the no-fly zone.
A suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber killed at least 15 people and wounded 20, including Sri Lanka's telecommunications minister, during a parade in the south of the Indian Ocean island on Tuesday, officials said.
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers have appealed for international action to halt a major offensive against their shrinking fiefdom while the island's military have rejected any talk of a truce. The rebel forces are cornered in the northeast of the island.