Military: Sri Lanka fighting kills 16
Thu August 14, 2008 05:39 EDT .
RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A wave of battles across the front lines in Sri Lanka - 's 25-year-old civil war killed 14 ethnic Tamil rebels and two government soldiers, the military said Thursday.
Government jets hit a series of Tamil Tiger targets in the Mullaittivu region early Thursday in support of troops fighting on the ground, the military said in a statement.
Fighting has escalated in recent weeks, with the military capturing a series of rebel bases and large chunks of territory, and government officials reiterating their pledge to crush the rebel group by the end of the year.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that tens of thousands of people were displaced by recent fighting, most of them heading deeper into rebel-held territory. Some were forced to abandon their homes repeatedly in recent months.
Health authorities were struggling to cope with the influx of displaced people. The escalating fighting was making it difficult for humanitarian workers to get access to certain areas, the Red Cross said.
``Most urgent needs have been met,'' said Red Cross spokeswoman Aleksandra Matijevic. ``(But) their needs increase by the day.''
In fighting Wednesday, troops killed seven rebels in the Welioya region, the military said. Fighting in Vavuniya killed six rebels and another rebel fighter was killed in the Jaffna region, it said. The Tamil Tigers killed one soldier in Welioya and another in Kundambimulai.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan was not available for comment. Both sides routinely exaggerate enemy casualties and underreport their own. Independent verification of the fighting is not possible because most journalists are barred from the war zone.
The Tamil Tigers 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.
Published: Thu Aug 14 06:57:47 EDT 2008