Military: Fighting in northern Sri Lanka kills 25
Sat August 16, 2008 10:47 EDT .
RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Air force jets pounded Tamil Tiger fortifications in northern Sri Lanka - on Saturday, destroying a rebel bunker line as fighting intensified in the country's civil war, the military said.
Heavy battles Friday and Saturday across the front lines surrounding the dwindling area controlled by the rebels killed 23 guerrilla fighters and two soldiers, the military said.
In recent weeks, troops have broken through the rebels' defenses and seized a series of key towns and bases. Government officials have reiterated their pledge to route the Tamil Tigers by the end of the year and end the nation's 25-year-old civil war.
Raging battles in the Kilinochchi region killed nine rebel fighters, the military said. Fighting in Vavuniya, Welioya, Mullaittivu and Jaffna killed another 14, the military said.
As the troops advanced on the rebels' main power base in Kilinochchi on Saturday morning, air force jets supported them by striking and destroying a line of rebel bunkers east of the town of Nachchikuda, said air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara.
The rebels also struck, exploding a bomb Saturday morning near a bus filled with soldiers in Vavuniya district as they prepared to go on leave, the military said. Two soldiers were killed in the attack, it said.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not answer calls 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.
The government has vowed to crush the group by the end of the year and win the war that has already killed more than 70,000 people.
International aid groups have said the recent fighting forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes and warned that their basic needs and safety needed to be heeded.
Ministers and other top government officials met Friday to discuss plans to provide the displaced with food and shelter, the state-owned Daily News reported Saturday.
Published: Sat Aug 16 14:09:19 EDT 2008