35 Tamil rebels, two soldiers killed in Sri Lanka

August 15th, 2008 - 7:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Aug 15 (DPA) At least 35 Tamil rebels and two soldiers were killed as troops advanced in northern Sri Lanka amidst heavy fighting, military officials said Friday. Troops are advancing from several fronts on rebel strongholds in the Vanni region, 320 km north of the capital Colombo.

Heavy fighting was reported from the Palamoddai area where troops overran four bunkers and captured an 81-mm mortar gun position, killing nine rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and injuring 10.

Troops also confronted a group of rebels north of Janakapura, killing nine rebels and capturing five bunkers.

The other rebels were killed in a number of clashes in the Vanni region. Military officials said that at least 48 rebels were injured in the confrontations Thursday.

Two soldiers were also killed in Thursday’s fighting, an army statement said.

Military officials said troops made significant gains in the north of the island and have advanced into rebel-controlled areas.

No independent confirmation of the military’s claims could be obtained.

However, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UN agencies operating in the areas said more than 130,000 civilians have been displaced during the past four months.

Civilians have been fleeing further north to prevent being caught in the conflict.

Over the past two years, government troops have captured rebel-held areas in the east and are now in the process of capturing areas in the north.

According to army commander Sarath Fonseka more than 9,000 rebels and 1,770 soldiers have been killed in the past two years.

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