Soldiers destroy six rebel bunkers in Sri Lanka, killing 5 guerrillas, military says
Sri Lankan troops destroyed six Tamil Tiger rebel bunkers Thursday during clashes that killed five guerrillas and one soldier, the military said.
Soldiers attacked the rebel bunkers in their northern front lines in Muhamalai and Nagarkovil villages at dawn and the two sides exchanged gunfire for about a half-hour, a defense official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media. Five rebels and one soldier were killed, he said.
Clashes across three northern fronts Wednesday killed 23 rebels and wounded 11 soldiers, the official said.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not be reached for comment. Both sides routinely give varying accounts of the same battle.
With fighting escalating in the northern fronts the rebels have been accused of targeting civilians in buses and train stations.
The Tamil Tigers, listed as a terror organization in the United States and European Union, have been blamed for a recent suicide attack on a train station and two other bus bombings that killed 47 travelers, including half of the baseball team of a leading high school in Colombo.
The rebels have been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils after decades of being marginalized by Sinhalese-dominated governments. More than 70,000 people have died in the violence.
A 2002 cease-fire broke down over the past two years amid renewed fighting that has killed more than 5,000 people.
The government officially pulled out of the truce last month and promised to crush the rebel group by the end of the year. (AP)
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