Military: 14 rebels, 1 soldier killed in fighting in northern Sri Lanka
Tue June 17, 2008 03:33 EDT .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Battles across Sri Lanka - 's volatile north killed 14 ethnic Tamil rebels and one government soldier, the military said Tuesday.
In the worst fighting Monday, soldiers killed six rebels in the Mannar region bordering the rebels' de facto state, a Defense Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
One soldier was wounded in the confrontation, he said.
In the Welioya district, separate clashes killed three rebels and one soldier, he said.
Other fighting in the Jaffna and Vavuniya regions killed five rebels and wounded six soldiers, he said.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan was not immediately available for comment.
It was not possible to independently verify the military's claims because reporters are not allowed in the war zone. Both sides commonly exaggerate their enemy's casualties while underplaying their own.
Government forces have tried for the past several months to break into the rebels' well-guarded northern strongholds from four main fronts, promising to crush the insurgents and dismantle their administration by the end of the year.
But military analysts have said the military's progress has been slower than expected and the rebels retain much of their capacity to resist.
The rebels have been fighting the government since 1983 to create an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils who have been marginalized by successive governments controlled by majority ethnic Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.Discuss this story
Published: Tue Jun 17 10:04:29 EDT 2008