Sri Lankan military says it killed 21 rebels in separate attacks
Sun November 26, 2006 04:52 EST .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan troops killed 21 Tamil rebels in separate clashes in the east, the military said Sunday, as government forces and the guerrillas exchanged mortar and artillery fire. The government controls the main towns of the Jaffna peninsula, considered the heartland of Sri Lanka - 's minority ethnic Tamils, while the Tigers operate from the area's villages and jungles.
Fighting along the same line since August has left hundreds of combatants dead in some of the bloodiest clashes since the government and rebels signed a 2002 cease-fire that temporarily halted two decades of civil war.
On Saturday, the military said its warplanes attacked a camp housing Tamil Tiger rebel suicide bombers in the country's north. The rebels dismissed the claim.
The camp was located at Iranamadu, near the rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi, Rajapakse said. The camp suffered ``heavy damage.''
Rebels denied that any camp was attacked, but said that two air force planes bombed a jungle area in Iranamadu, and that no casualties were reported.
Rebel spokesman Daya Master said the government's airstrikes were meant to spread fear among the Tamil people and disrupt ``Martyrs' Day'' celebrations on Monday.
Many fear that near-daily attacks and killings will drive Sri Lanka - back to full-scale war, although the government and Tigers say they are committed to the 2002 truce.
The truce had reduced the violence for some time, but since last December more than 3,200 fighters and civilians have been killed in escalating airstrikes, mine attacks, assassinations and heavy arms fire.
The rebels began fighting in 1983 for a separate homeland for minority ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka - 's north and east, citing discrimination by the Sinhalese majority.
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Published: Sun Nov 26 09:52:39 EST 2006