Military: Sri Lankan air force attacks rebel boats as fighting kills 21
Wed July 9, 2008 04:24 EDT .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - air force jets attacked a Tamil Tiger flotilla off the coast of northern Sri Lanka - early Wednesday, destroying one rebel boat, while infantry clashes in the north killed 19 insurgents and two soldiers, the military said.
The military has increasingly used airstrikes to try to weaken the rebels as part of its ongoing offensive against the Tamil Tigers' de facto state in the north.
About 8 a.m., air force jets operating on information provided by the navy, attacked boats from the rebels' navy off the coast of the northern Mullaitivu district and completely destroyed one vessel, said air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara.
Meanwhile, infantry clashes across the war-ravaged north killed 19 rebels and two soldiers Tuesday, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.
He said army troops attacked and captured a rebel bunker in the Vavuniya district after a clash that killed eight rebels. Another rebel died elsewhere in Vavuniya, he said.
Separately in Vavuniya, two soldiers were killed when rebels attacked an army's foot patrol.
In the nearby Welioya region, troops captured four rebels bunkers after fighting that left 10 rebels dead and 10 soldiers wounded, said Nanayakkara.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not be reached for comment. It is not possible to get independent accounts of the clashes because journalists are barred from the war zone.
Each side commonly exaggerates its enemy's casualties while underreporting their own.
The rebels have been fighting since 1983 to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils, who have been marginalized by successive governments controlled by ethnic Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.Discuss this story
Published: Wed Jul 9 07:19:10 EDT 2008