Sri Lanka battles kill 26 rebels, 1 soldier
Sat September 20, 2008 03:05 EDT .
- - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Government soldiers and Tamil Tiger rebels fought a series of battles across Sri Lanka - 's war-ravaged northern region, killing 26 rebels and one soldier, the military said Saturday.
Fighting on the Indian Ocean island has escalated in recent weeks with government forces sweeping deep into rebel-held territory, capturing insurgent bases and threatening to overrun the Tamil Tigers' administrative capital at Kilinochchi.
The latest infantry clashes took place Friday along the front lines in Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Welioya and Jaffna districts, a military statement said.
Soldiers killed 13 guerrillas in three separate clashes in Vavuniya, while in Kilinochchi nine rebels were killed, it said.
Troops destroyed a rebel bunker in Welioya after a clash that killed three insurgents and wounded 22 more, the military said.
A rebel mortar attack and booby trap explosions in Welioya killed one soldier and wounded five more.
Another rebel was killed in the northern Jaffna peninsula, the statement said.
With most communication with the northern areas cut, rebel military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not be reached for comment.
Independent verification of the fighting and casualties was not possible because most journalists are banned from the war zone. Both sides have been accused of exaggerating enemy casualties and underreporting their own.
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: Sat Sep 20 03:37:08 EDT 2008