Sri Lanka military says 40 Tamil rebels, 6 soldiers killed in battles in north
Sun February 10, 2008 01:04 EST .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Clashes between government forces and separatist Tamil rebels left 40 guerrillas and six soldiers dead in Sri Lanka - 's embattled north, the military said Sunday.
Soldiers launched a series of attacks on Tamil Tiger rebels across the front lines in the Vavuniya region Saturday, killing 19 rebels, a defense ministry official said.
Three soldiers also died in the operation and seven others were wounded, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Separate battles in nearby Mannar district killed 11 guerrillas and two soldiers, he said. Fourteen troops were also wounded.
Soldiers also killed seven rebels in Jaffna peninsula Saturday and one soldier died, the official said. Three guerrillas were killed in the northeastern Welioya region.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not answer telephone calls seeking comment Sunday.
It was not possible to independently verify the reports because of limited access to the north. Both sides often inflate their opponents' casualty figures and lower their own.
Fighting has escalated in recent months after senior government officials vowed to crush the rebels this year and end more than two decades of civil war. Government forces have opened up four fronts around rebel-held territory, while the air force has targeted the Tiger's leadership.
The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils after decades of being marginalized by Sinhalese-dominated governments. The fighting has killed more than 70,000 people.
A 2002 cease-fire fostered hopes for a lasting peace, but the truce broke down as new fighting over the past two years killed 5,000 people.
More than 800 people have been killed since the government announced last month it was quitting the cease-fire, according to the military.Discuss this story
Published: Sun Feb 10 01:39:38 EST 2008