Sri Lankan authorities say unidentified gunmen have shot dead a top government official involved in the Norwegian-led peace process with Tamil Tigers.
The authorities say deputy head of the government's Peace Secretariat, Ketheesh Loganathan, was killed Saturday at his home in a suburb of the capital, Colombo.
His assassination came as fighting intensified between Sri Lanka's military and Tamil rebels. Some 150 rebels and 27 military personnel were killed, with 80 soldiers wounded.
Some of the worst clashes occurred in the northern Jaffna peninsula. The Tigers said they are advancing and have destroyed army checkpoints, but the military denies their claims.
Sri Lankan officials also say Tamil Tigers attacked a key naval base in the northeastern part of the country in an effort to retake Jaffna. Fighting is also reported from the eastern district of Trincomalee.
Truce monitors say many civilians in Jaffna and Trincomalee are fleeing their homes to escape the latest clashes.
More than 500 people have been killed since intense fighting broke out more than two weeks ago.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.