Sri Lanka : Heavy fighting kills 55 combatants
Sun August 10, 2008 10:27 EDT .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan soldiers launched a pre-dawn attack on Tamil separatists in the embattled north Sunday, killing 15 rebels, while other battles in the region left 39 rebels and one soldier dead, the military said.
The civil war on the Indian Ocean island has escalated in recent months, with the military stepping up ground assaults and airstrikes after the government pledged to capture rebel-held territory and crush the insurgents.
Army troops pushed into rebel territory across a defense line in the village of Kilali on the Jaffna peninsula early Sunday and attacked rebel bunkers, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara.
He said soldiers killed 15 guerrillas before retreating to their bunkers, without suffering casualties.
A separate clash in the Welioya region hours later killed 15 guerrillas and wounded two soldiers, Nanayakkara said.
On Saturday, fighting left 25 dead on the front lines in the Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Jaffna and Welioya regions bordering the rebels' de facto state, Nanayakkara said.
Scattered battles in Vavuniya killed 16 rebels and one soldier, while three rebels died in Mullaitivu. Separate clashes killed five insurgents in Welioya and Jaffna, he said.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan was not available for comment Sunday. Both sides routinely exaggerate enemy casualties and underreport their own. Independent verification of the fighting is not possible because journalists are barred from the war zone.
The rebels have been fighting for an independent state in the north and east since 1983, following decades of marginalization of ethnic Tamils by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.Discuss this story
Published: Sun Aug 10 12:26:24 EDT 2008