Monday, January 21, 2008

Up to 48 killed in latest fighting: Sri Lanka military

Heavy fighting raged across Sri Lanka's north with the military destroying rebel bunkers and killing at least 46 guerrillas, the defence ministry said.

Fighting across the Nagarkovil defence line in Jaffna early Monday saw at least 15 rebels killed and more than 30 injured, the military said, placing their own losses at just two dead.

"Troops launched a multi-pronged surprise assault at LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) positions ahead of Nagarkovil defences... forcing terrorists to flee with soaring casualties," the statement said.

Elsewhere, the rebels lost 31 cadres in fighting across Vavuniya, Mannar and Weli Oya, all in the northern area of the mainland, on Sunday, the defence ministry said.

Since the start of this month, 551 rebels have been killed against just 24 government soldiers dead, according to defence ministry figures.

The figures cannot be independently checked as no journalists or rights groups have access to the embattled areas.

The fighting came after the military accused the Tigers of killing at least 10 civilians late Thursday in the relatively calm south. A roadside bomb last Wednesday killed 27 bus passengers.

Sri Lanka formally ended a six-year peace truce with the Tamil Tiger rebels last week, accusing the guerrillas of using the Oslo-brokered pact to rearm and strike military and civilian targets.