Sri Lanka : Soldiers capture Tamil rebel base, air force destroys 6 guerrilla boats
Sun July 20, 2008 09:27 EDT .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan government forces captured a Tamil Tiger rebel base on the northwest coast Sunday after a 48-hour battle that left at least 15 rebels dead, while air force jets destroyed six rebel boats, the military said.
Clashes elsewhere in the region killed 16 rebels and one soldier, the military said.
The civil war on the Indian Ocean island has escalated in recent months, with the military stepping up ground assaults and air strikes after the government pledged to capture rebel-held territory and crush the insurgents.
In the latest attack, army troops seized a rebel base in the village of Illupakadavai in Mannar district early Sunday, said Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara, the military spokesman.
He said soldiers killed 15 rebels during a 48-hour battle to capture the base and one soldier was wounded by a rebel mortar attack.
Air force fighter jets destroyed six rebel vessels fleeing from the fallen base, Nanayakkara said. The air attack also damaged two other boats, he said.
He said details of casualties were not available.
Separate gunbattles elsewhere in the region Saturday left 16 rebels and a soldier dead, Nanayakkara said.
Soldiers killed 11 rebels in Vavuniya while five rebels died in the nearby Mannar district, he said.
Separately, a soldier was killed by a sniper's bullet in Mannar, he said.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not immediately be reached for comment.
It was not possible to independently verify the military reports because journalists are banned from the northern jungles where much of the fighting takes place. Each side commonly exaggerates its enemy's casualties and downplays its own.
The rebels have fought 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.
Published: Sun Jul 20 11:23:39 EDT 2008