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Sri Lanka says key rebel positions taken

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, April 28 (UPI) -- Sri Lanka said Tuesday it has taken two key positions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the northeast part of the country.

The Ministry of Defense carried a statement on its Web site saying the LTTE "suffered double blows, losing two heavily fortified defense positions as … troops made pre-dawn incursions at identified terror strong points located south of Valayanmadam today," CNN reported.

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The reports came one day after Sri Lanka announced it would heed international calls and stop heavy shelling and air strikes against the LTTE-held enclave to avoid civilian casualties. But the rebel Web site, Tamilnet.com, told of an "intense barrage of heavy weapons" through Monday evening, the broadcaster said.

The United States, United Nations, European Union and India have called for a cease-fire in Sri Lanka. Foreign ministers David Miliband of Britain and Bernard Kouchner of France were due to visit Sri Lanka Wednesday, officials said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was denied a visa to enter the country with his British and French counterparts in what is seen as a diplomatic protest, CNN said.

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