51 combatants killed, 50 injured in Sri Lanka clashes

August 28th, 2008 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Aug 28 (IANS) At least 46 Tamil Tigers and five soldiers were killed and 50 wounded on both sides as government troops were locked in heavy fighting in Sri Lanka’s north, the authorities said Thursday.The defence ministry said 16 rebels and 34 soldiers were injured in sporadic clashes Wednesday in Mullaitivu, the main base of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Kilinochchi, Weli-Oya and Vavuniya.

It said that troops from Task Force 1 battled the LTTE as they advanced further Thursday northwards along the Mannar-Pooneryn road, along the northwestern coastal belt.

Claiming that the troops have captured fresh territories previously held by the rebels in these areas, it said that the military had unearthed over 100 anti-personnel mines.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told the Colombo-based diplomatic corps Thursday that the results of last week’s provincial council elections in Sabaragamuwa and North Central provinces were an “unambiguous message” from the people to continue the war against the LTTE.

The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) retained its hold in both provinces by winning all four 27 electorates in the election.

“(People) want the government under the leadership of President (Mahinda) Rajapaksa to flush out the terrorists from their last remaining jungle hideouts in the Wanni and bring freedom and democracy to the people in the north,” a statement from the foreign ministry quoted him as telling the diplomats.

The minister said the government “encourages civilians to move out from the conflict zone to areas under government control, which would enable it to provide them food, water, shelter and other essential services”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said last week that “tens of thousands of people have fled areas affected by fighting in Mannar and Kilinochchi districts” following the escalation in fighting.

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