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02 October 2023

Military says 14 rebels, one soldier killed in fighting in northern Sri Lanka

By Agencies

Scattered battles in the war-torn jungles of northern Sri Lanka killed 14 separatist guerrillas and a soldier, while government jets pounded a rebel navy base in the area, the military said on Friday.

The violence came as fighting between the two sides has sharply increased in recent weeks, with the government vowing to retake rebel-controlled territory and crush the Tamil Tigers after more than two decades of warfare.

In fighting on Thursday in the Mannar area along the Indian Ocean nation's west coast, troops killed three rebels who were trying to cross the front lines and two others in a separate confrontation, the military said in a statement. In nearby Vavuniya, troops killed nine fighters in two clashes, the military said.

A soldier was also killed in fighting on a third front in the Welioya area, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said. The military routinely reports casualties a day after the fighting.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not answer calls seeking comment. Both sides commonly exaggerate their enemies' casualties while underplaying their own. Independent confirmation is unavailable because journalists are barred from the conflict zone.

Early on Friday, air force jets hit an inland base used by the Sea Tigers, the rebels' naval arm, where some craft were hidden, Nanayakkara said.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, who were marginalised for decades by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting. (AP)