Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka say they have halted an offensive on a government-held town in the eastern part of the country, and are pulling back to their former positions.
The fighting, in the eastern Muslim town of Muttur in Trincomalee province, was described as the worst since a cease-fire was agreed to more than four years ago.

Thousands of civilians fled clashes between soldiers and the rebels.  At least five people were killed by artillery fire as they tried to find a safe haven.

Norwegian peace envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer met with Nordic cease-fire monitors Friday ahead of a meeting with government leaders.  He plans to travel north to meet rebel leaders soon.

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