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Tamil Tigers claim 100 soldiers killed in battle

At least 100 Sri Lankan troops were killed on Wednesday when Tamil separatists beat back a military offensive in the island’s north, the rebels said, while placing their own losses at 16.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a statement claimed they had also wounded about 400 government troops in the latest fighting in the northern peninsula of Jaffna.

”The Sri Lanka army suffered more than 100 killed in action and about 400 wounded in action,” the LTTE statement said. ”Sixteen valiant LTTE soldiers sacrificed their lives in this confrontation.”

However, the military rejected Tiger claims and said only 38 government troops were killed and 84 wounded. The military said troops had killed 52 Tigers.

There was no independent verification of the claims. Unconfirmed reports said about 127 soldiers were killed or missing following the latest firefight.

Fighting between government forces and the LTTE has intensified since the government formally pulled out of a six-year-old ceasefire pact in January, though a renewed civil war has been raging since 2006.

”LTTE terrorists came and attacked our forward line this morning. We have retaliated and captured about 400m to 500m of LTTE area in Muhamalai,” said military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara of the fighting. — Reuters, Sapa-AFP

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