Sir Lanka military says Navy sinks 10 rebel boats
Thu September 18, 2008 11:20 EDT .
RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Naval forces fought a ferocious sea battle with Tamil Tiger separatists off Sri Lanka - 's northwestern coast Thursday, sinking 10 boats and killing at least 25 rebel sailors, the military said.
The naval confrontation came as intense ground fighting between military forces and the ethnic Tamil separatists in the north killed 15 rebels and three soldiers, according to the military. The rebels, meanwhile, said they killed 25 soldiers in fighting Thursday.
Fighting has escalated in recent weeks with a resurgent government offensive sweeping deep into rebel-held territory, capturing insurgent bases and threatening to overrun the Tamil Tigers' administrative capital at Kilinochchi.
Naval forces sank seven small boats belonging to the Tamil Tigers' naval wing in a four-hour battle off the coast at Nachchikuda and three medium-sized boats, military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said.
Between 25 and 30 rebel sailors were killed in the fighting and two government sailors were wounded, the military said.
The Tamil Tigers, meanwhile, said they had repelled a government offensive in the Kilinochchi district, deep in the rebel heartland Thursday, killing 25 soldiers, according to the rebel-affiliated TamilNet Web site.
The military said in a statement that it killed 15 rebels and lost three of its soldiers Thursday in a separate battle in Kilinochchi.
Each side routinely exaggerates its enemy's casualties and underreports its own. Independent verification of the fighting is not available, since journalists and independent observers are barred from the war zone. Since 1983, more than 70,000 people have died in the rebels' fight for an independent homeland.
In response to a series of attacks in Colombo and other towns far from the war zone, authorities have established a maze of roadblocks and checkpoints in the capital and required visitors from the north to register with police.
With the fighting intensifying, police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera announced Thursday that every Sri Lankan who moved to Colombo from the north in the past five years would have to reregister with police Sunday.
The order will affect more than 100,000 people, he said. The overwhelming majority of those people are ethnic Tamils.
Tamils, who suffered decades of marginalization by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority, complain they are subject to frequent police raids in the capital, harassment and arbitrary detentions.Discuss this story
Published: Thu Sep 18 22:14:57 EDT 2008