Dozens killed in Sri Lanka clashes

Army claims at least 26 Tamil Tiger fighters killed after fighting in the north.

    The army has been fighting for months in the Tigers' stronghold in the north [EPA]

    In the same period 399 security personnel have died in combat, according to the defence ministry.

    The Sri Lankan army has been fighting for months over territory around the Tigers' stronghold in the north.

    In the latest infantry clashes, army troops killed 11 fighters in Vavuniya
    while separate fighting in the nearby Mannar district left six fighters and
    three soldiers dead, an official said speaking on condition of anonyymity.

    Nine fighters were killed and 33 wounded after clashes in Jaffna and Welioya, he said.

    Rasiah Ilanthirayan, a rebel spokesman, could not immediately be reached for
    comment.

    It was not possible to independently verify the military's claims because
    journalists are banned from the northern jungles where much of the fighting
    takes place.

    Each side commonly exaggerates its enemy's casualties while playing down its own.

    The government has promised to defeat the LTTE by the end of this year.

    The Tigers have strongly resisted and halted some military advances and diplomats and other observers say the army has faced more resistance than it expected.

    Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for
    minority Tamils who have been marginalised by successive governments
    controlled by majority Sinhalese.

    More than 70,000 people have been killed in the decades long conflict.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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