Sri Lanka says 34 dead as fighting nears rebel HQ
Sun October 5, 2008 05:01 EDT .
- - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Government forces neared the Tamil Tiger rebels' main town in new fighting that left 29 guerrillas and five soldiers dead, the military said Sunday.
The heaviest fighting was very near the rebels' administrative capital of Kilinochchi, where 20 guerrillas and four soldiers died Saturday, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The army says its soldiers are now only just over one mile from the outer limits of the town, which the government has said it is close to capturing.
Kilinochchi was the meeting place between the rebels and various visiting diplomats during a Norway-brokered peace process that was officially called off early this year.
Nanayakkara said four other rebels and a soldier were killed in clashes in the Vavuniya and Welioya regions.
Soldiers overran five rebel bunkers in the Mullaitivu district Saturday, killing five rebels, the military said.
The clashes left nine rebel bunkers in government hands, it said in a statement.
Rebel officials could not be contacted for comment because most communication lines to guerrilla-dominated areas have been severed.
Most independent observers and reporters are barred from the war zone, making it difficult to verify the military's claims.
Tamil Tiger rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for the country's ethnic minority Tamils who faced marginalization by successive governments controlled by ethnic Sinhalese.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.Discuss this story
Published: Sun Oct 5 05:31:09 EDT 2008