Sri Lanka fighting kills 30 rebels, 2 soldiers
Sun October 12, 2008 03:38 EDT .
- - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Separate battles between government forces and Tamil separatists across Sri Lanka - 's volatile northern region killed 30 rebels and two soldiers, the military said Sunday.
The new fighting came as soldiers closed in on the rebels' administrative capital of Kilinochchi in a campaign aimed at routing the guerrillas and ending the 25-year-old war that has killed more than 70,000 people.
The worst fighting took place Saturday around Kilinochchi where two separate clashes killed 26 rebels and two soldiers, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. The same fighting wounded 16 rebels and seven soldiers.
The army has said its forces are about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from the outskirts of Kilinochchi.
Other battles in Welioya and Vavuniya killed four rebels on Saturday, said Nanayakkara.
With nearly all communications to the north severed, a rebel spokesman could not be contacted for comment.
Independent verification of the military's claims is nearly impossible because most journalists are banned from the war zone. Both sides routinely exaggerate enemy losses and underreport their own.
Fighting has escalated in recent months, with the military capturing a series of rebel bases and large chunks of territory. Officials have pledged to crush the guerrillas by the end of the year.
The rebels have been fighting since 1983 to create an independent homeland for the country's ethnic minority Tamils, who have 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 12 05:31:41 EDT 2008