Sri Lanka says new wave of fighting across volatile north kills 32
Sun March 30, 2008 08:28 EDT .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Battles between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels killed 28 insurgents and four soldiers across northern Sri Lanka - , the military said Sunday.
Also Sunday, air force fighter jets bombed a base of the Sea Tigers the rebels' naval wing in the guerrilla-held northern district of Mullaitivu, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. He gave no details of casualties or damage, but said pilots confirmed hitting the target.
The battles and airstrikes were part of a heavy increase in fighting in the country's civil war in recent months. The government has vowed to crush the rebels by the end of the year, but diplomats and other observers say the army is facing more resistance than it expected.
Army troops fought separate gunbattles in the northern Wanni region Saturday that killed 15 Tamil rebels and one soldier, Nanayakkara said. In the northeastern Welioya region, a clash left three soldiers and one rebel dead, he said.
Also Saturday, army troops destroyed two Tamil Tiger bunkers and killed 10 rebels in the Mannar district, while two more rebels were killed on the northern Jaffna peninsula.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not answer calls seeking comment.
It was not possible to independently verify the military's claims because journalists are banned from the war zone. Both the government and rebels often exaggerate the other side's casualties and underreport their own.
The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, who have been marginalized for decades by successive governments run by majority ethnic Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.Discuss this story
Published: Sun Mar 30 09:13:55 EDT 2008