60 combatants killed in Sri Lanka’s fresh fighting (Lead)

May 19th, 2008 - 4:09 pm ICT by admin  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, May 19 (IANS) At least 60 combatants, including 40 Tamil Tiger guerrillas, were killed and scores wounded in fierce fighting between advancing government troops and the rebels in Sri Lanka’s northwestern Mannar district, according to claims by both parties. According to the defence ministry, fresh clashes erupted Sunday morning when the LTTE “made abortive attempts to halt the army advance on the Mannar front by attacking the Nadunkandal army deployments”, leaving at least 11 LTTE cadres and a government soldier killed.

It said the LTTE cadres made another attempt to capture the Nadunkandal army defence around 5.45 p.m. “but failed in the face of the army counter offensive”.

“During the clashes that lasted for more than one hour, 21 terrorists were killed and 12 suffered injuries. Also, five soldiers were killed in action and three suffered injuries,” the defence ministry said.

In a separate clash also in Mannar, the army attacked and captured an LTTE bunker defence in the Karunkandal area around 6 a.m. Sunday.

“Seven terrorists were reported to have been killed in this incident while four soldiers were killed, three went missing and four suffered injuries,” the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the pro-LTTE puthinam.com website quoting rebel sources claimed that at least 20 soldiers were killed and 40 wounded when the rebels mounted counter attacks against the advancing troops at Karunkandal in Mannar Sunday.

“The attempt by the government troops, backed by artillery and mortar bombardment, was thwarted after a six-hour fierce fighting,” LTTE sources were quoted as saying.

The website did not give details of damages suffered by the LTTE.

Independent verification of the battlefront casualties is not possible because journalists are barred from visiting the affected areas.

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