Sri Lankan government says it has captured key rebel naval base
Wed July 16, 2008 02:50 EDT .
- - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan soldiers captured a key naval base used by the Tamil Tiger rebels in the northern part of the country Wednesday, a day after forces killed 51 rebels in attacks across the same region, the military said.
A Defense Ministry statement said government troops overran the rebel-held town of Vidattaltivu in the north Wednesday morning. The coastal town is the location of an important base used by the Sea Tiger naval force.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not be immediately reached for comment.
Fighting in the 25-year civil war has escalated in recent months after the government vowed to destroy the rebel group by the end of the year.
On Tuesday, gunbattles, airstrikes and artillery attacks on rebel positions killed 30 Tamil rebels in the worst fighting reported from northern Mannar district, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.
Elsewhere, 14 rebels and a soldier were killed Tuesday in fighting in Vavuniya district while seven more rebels died in Jaffna and Welioya fronts, Nanayakkara said.
It is not possible to independently verify the military reports because journalists are banned from the conflict zone.
Both sides often exaggerate the losses inflicted on their enemy and underreport their own.
Tamil Tiger rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, who have faced marginalization by successive governments controlled by majority ethnic Sinhalese.Discuss this story
Published: Wed Jul 16 03:40:18 EDT 2008