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May 29, 2017

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Red Cross worker killed in Sri Lanka war zone shelling

COLOMBO -- Shelling killed a Red Cross worker inside Sri Lanka's war zone on Wednesday, the aid agency said, while troops and the Tamil Tigers battled in an intensifying fight to the finish of Asia's longest modern war.

Two senior military sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said heavy confrontations were picking up around the 2.5 square km (1 sq mile) combat zone where the Tigers are surrounded, and that some civilians were trying to flee.

The seeming inevitability of a final, bloody confrontation has grown amid Western outrage over attacks that killed hundreds over the weekend and which aid agencies said was making it impossible to help those people still being held by the rebels.

Analysts and diplomats said the end of voting in India's month-long election on Wednesday was likely to usher in an all-out attack by Sri Lanka to wipe out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and bring a conventional end to a 25-year war.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, unable to ferry out wounded and deliver aid by boat because of days of fighting, said one of their local staff was killed.

"A 31-year-old local worker was killed this afternoon inside the conflict zone by shelling. His mother was also killed," ICRC spokeswoman Sarasi Wijeratne said. The ICRC is the only international aid agency working inside the war zone.

Wijeratne did not say who fired the shells.

The LTTE and military had no immediate comment.

Late on Tuesday, the Tigers used six boats to attack troops.

"Some of the cadres landed and we had a confrontation," military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said. Three suicide boats were destroyed, he said.

It is impossible to verify battlefield accounts, since the war is mostly off-limits to outsiders and both sides have distorted events to their advantage since war erupted in 1983.

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