Fighting kills dozens in Sri Lanka, says Defence Ministry

Sri Lanka government troops on Wednesday captured a strip of land from Tamil Tigers after heavy fighting across the island’s north left 42 rebels and a soldier dead, the Defence Ministry said.

Security forces killed the guerrillas from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in separate clashes in the Mannar, Weli Oya and Jaffna districts since Tuesday evening, the ministry said.

It said the air force carried out attacks against suspected Tamil Tiger targets on Tuesday, but did not give details of casualties or damage.

However, it said troops wrested control over an area known as Kallaiadanchan in the coastal Mannar district early on Wednesday.

There was no immediate word from the Tigers.

In another development, two civilians were shot dead by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in the Wilpattu wildlife park on Wednesday, the ministry said. The motive for the killing was not clear.

The latest casualty claims brings to at least 2 562 the number of rebels said to have been killed by security forces since January, according to Defence Ministry data.

The ministry has reported losing 152 of its soldiers in the same period.

Casualty figures given by both sides in the decades-old ethnic conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives cannot be independently confirmed as journalists and rights groups are barred from front-line areas. — AFP

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