Air strike, ground battles killed 28 rebels, five soldiers in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan forces launched an airstrike against a Tamil Tiger naval base and attacked rebel fortifications in a wave of violence that killed 28 rebels and five soldiers, the military said Monday.
The heavy fighting came amid a government offensive against the rebels’ de facto state in parts of the north. Top government officials have vowed to destroy the Tamil Tigers and win the 25-year-old war with the separatist group by the end of the year.
In fresh fighting Sunday, government troops launched a series of raids against rebel bunkers along the front lines in the Mannar region, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. The fighting killed 17 rebels and five soldiers, he said.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan was not immediately available for comment, but the pro-rebel TamilNet website said 11 Sri Lankan troops were killed in the battle. It gave no figures for rebel casualties.
The two sides often give vastly different casualty figures, and independent confirmation is unavailable because journalists are barred from the conflict zone.
In another attack Sunday, air force jets bombed a training camp used by female members of the Sea Tigers, the rebels’ naval wing, killing 10 fighters, the military said. Another rebel was killed in fighting in the northern Jaffna peninsula, Nanayakkara said.
The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 to create an independent homeland for Sri Lanka’s minority ethnic Tamils after decades of being marginalized by governments controlled by the majority Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict. (AP)
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