Saturday, January 5, 2008

Sri Lanka fighting kills 34 Tamil Tiger rebels, a soldier

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lankan troops killed 34 Tamil Tiger rebels in northern Sri Lanka, the military said on Saturday, following the government's formal scrapping of an already tattered truce in the two-decade civil war.

One soldier was killed and 11 wounded in fighting in the northern Jaffna peninsula, the northern district of Vavuniya and northwestern district of Mannar.

"Fighting on Saturday in Jaffna, Vavuniya and Mannar killed 26 LTTE terrorists. Eight soldiers were also wounded from the fighting," said a spokesman at the Media Centre for National Security,who asked not to be named in line with the policy.

The military also said fighting on Friday killed eight Tamil Tiger rebels in Jaffna and Mannar, while one soldier was killed and three wounded in three different mine blasts in Vavuniya.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are seeking to carve out an independent state in north and east Sri Lanka, were not immediately available for comment on the fighting.

There were no independent accounts of how many people were killed or what had happened. Analysts say both sides tend to overstate enemy losses and play down their own.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration formally notified mediator Norway late on Thursday it was giving a stipulated 14-day notice period to end the truce.

The Nordic Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, which kept a tally of violations of the truce agreement, was initially seen as a deterrent to human rights abuses by both sides, but became increasingly ineffective as its access in conflict areas was hampered. Its role ends with the ceasefire.