Sri Lankan officials say government troops and Tamil rebels fought a fierce battle Tuesday, in the northern Jaffna peninsula in their latest clash since heavy fighting erupted last month.

Officials say Sri Lankan soldiers and rebels exchanged artillery and mortar fire overnight around the village of Muhumalai, near the line separating government and rebel-held territory.

Aid workers say around 100,000 Sri Lankans have been displaced in the north and east of the country during the past four weeks of fighting. The clashes have been the heaviest since the government and rebels signed a cease-fire in 2002.

Authorities in the capital, Colombo, ordered schools to close Tuesday after a Tamil group threatened to attack civilians in the south of the country. Schools will remain closed until late August.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the government and Tamil rebels to cease hostilities and resume peace talks.

A suspected rebel bomb attack killed seven people in Colombo Monday and wounded at least 10. The attack targeted a Pakistani embassy convoy.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.