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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tamil Tigers Lift Blockade on Water

TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka -- Water flowed to thousands of farmers in eastern Sri Lanka for the first time in three weeks Wednesday after Tamil Tiger rebels lifted a blockade, but there was no end to the worst fighting since a 2002 truce.

The army fired rockets towards Tamil Tiger positions before dawn, 15 days after jets first dropped bombs on rebel areas in a bid to wrest control of a disputed sluice. The rebels said air force jets again bombed their territory.

"Water is flowing. The water level has risen 2 meters high. That indicates there won't be a problem of water for those villagers and farmers," said Major Upali Rajapakse, senior coordinator at the media center for national security.

"The humanitarian operation conducted by the security forces has achieved success," he said. "The fighting is on and off. ... We are still consolidating the area."

The island's defense secretary said it was too early to say if the military campaign was nearly over. The government says the Tigers must still vacate the area. The Tigers vowed to reopen the waterway Sunday, but the government replied with renewed artillery fire.

"The control of the water should be [in government hands] because the water has to be managed," said Palitha Kohona, head of the government peace secretariat.

The Tigers said they had no intention of leaving the area, which Nordic truce monitors said was ill-defined, but was under de facto rebel control.