Government troops and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels clashed in four separate battles that killed 25 guerrillas across Sri Lanka’s restive north, while a soldier was killed in a blast believed set by the rebels, the military said Friday.
The clashes took place Thursday in four villages of Vavuniya district, bordering the de facto state run by the rebels in Sri Lanka’s north.
Soldiers killed 10 rebels in the first clash in Periyakurittikulam village, and killed at total of 15 more in clashes that broke out in the evening in three additional villages, the defense ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile a soldier on a search operation was struck and killed by an explosive device believed set by the rebels in the Kilali region, north of Vavuniya, the statement said.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not be contacted for comment and it was not possible to verify the details independently because the combat areas are off-limits to journalists.
Both the government and the rebels are known to release exaggerated casualty figures for their opponents and lower their own.
Thursday’s clashes were part of a continuing government campaign to crush the Tamil Tiger rebels who have been fighting since 1983 to create an independent homeland for Sri Lanka’s ethnic minority Tamils.
Ground clashes, ambushes and air strikes have become frequent in recent months in the villages surrounding the rebel territory.
On Thursday the military announced that air force jets destroyed a rebel naval training camp in the rebel-controlled Mullaithivu district.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in nearly 25 years of violence. (AP)