Fighting kills 52 rebels as jets bomb rebel base in northern Sri Lanka , says military
Thu February 14, 2008 06:24 EST .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Government troops fighting Tamil Tiger separatists across the jungles of northern Sri Lanka - killed 52 rebel fighters in recent days, the military said Thursday.
Soldiers killed eight guerrillas in fighting Wednesday along the front lines in Vavuniya region, the military said in a statement. In the nearby Mannar district, soldiers attacked rebel bunkers and killed seven fighters, while in the northeastern Welioya region, seven other guerrillas were killed, the military said.
The newly reported deaths brought the overall toll in Wednesday's fighting to 39, including two soldiers killed by a roadside bomb, according to the military. It also announced it killed 13 rebels in an artillery attack Tuesday.
Also Thursday, air force jets pounded a Tamil Tiger base in the rebel-held Mullaitivu district, the military said, without giving details of damage or casualties.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not answer calls seeking comment. Both sides in the conflict exaggerate enemy casualties while underreporting their own. It was not possible to independently verify the reports because the fighting took place deep in the northern jungles, where access is restricted.
Violence has escalated on the Indian Ocean island since the government withdrew last month from a 2002 cease-fire with the Tamil rebels.
The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, who have been marginalized for decades by Sinhalese-dominated governments. The fighting has killed more than 70,000 people.
The 2002 truce fostered hopes for a lasting peace, but broke down as fighting over the past two years killed 5,000 people.
Nearly 1,500 people have been killed since the government announced its withdrawal from the cease-fire, according to the military.Discuss this story
Published: Thu Feb 14 07:41:02 EST 2008