Rebel report says 10 soldiers killed
Tue November 4, 2008 02:28 EST .
KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's ethnic Tamil rebels beat back a government push into one of their northern strongholds, killing 10 soldiers, the insurgents' radio station reported Tuesday. The military denied the report.
Sri Lankan forces have in recent months pushed deep into rebel territory, seizing a number of bases and chunks of land in an attempt to deliver on the government promise to crush the Tamil Tigers' 25-year fight for an independent state.
The rebels have stepped up resistance as the troops approach their headquarters of Kilinochchi.
Voice of Tigers radio said that the government soldiers, using heavy artillery fire, tried to march into Mankulam village in northern Mullaitivu district Monday. But the insurgents repulsed the attempt, the radio said without mentioning damages to the guerrillas.
Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara, however, denied that soldiers died in the battle. He said soldiers found two rebel bodies.
It is difficult to obtain independent accounts from the battlefield because journalists are barred from the war zone. Both sides are accused of releasing exaggerated casualty numbers for each other while underreporting their own losses.
Meanwhile, several clashes broke out Monday in Mullaitivu, where the soldiers captured seven rebel bunkers, the military said in a statement.
The military has not released any casualty figures in the past weeks, other than when rebel bodies were recovered. The government says reporting on casualties could hamper the military campaign.
Tamil Tiger rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for the country's ethnic minority Tamils, who have suffered marginalization at the hands of successive governments controlled by majority ethnic Sinhalese.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.Discuss this story
Published: Tue Nov 4 06:55:48 EST 2008