Over 60 killed in Lanka’s fierce fighting (Lead)May 9th, 2008 - 7:51 pm ICT by admin
By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, May 9 (IANS) At least 63 people, including 33 Tamil Tiger rebels, were killed and over 50 wounded when Sri Lankan government troops launched a fresh offensive into the rebel stronghold in northwestern Mannar district Friday. Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said troops, backed by artillery and aerial bombardment, broke out from their forward defences and “forced into the LTTE stronghold during a multi-pronged offensive launched Friday morning”.
“At least 33 LTTE terrorists were killed and over 40 wounded in the heavy fighting in general area Alankulam, north of Giants Tank in Mannar,” Brig. Nanayakkara told IANS on phone.
Claiming that the military was able to wrest control of “the strategically important town of Adampan from the LTTE”, Brig. Nanayakkara said three soldiers were also killed while five were missing after the hours-long clashes.
“The supersonic fighter jets also carried out air sorties targeting an LTTE gathering in general area Parappakadanthan. An LTTE operation controlling room was also targeted in the air raid,” Nanayakkara said.
However, the pro-LTTE Tamilnet website, quoting LTTE sources, claimed that the guerrillas “had put up heavy resistance” against the advancing troops and thwarted their fresh bid to advance into the areas held by them.
“30 Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers were killed, five dead bodies of SLA troops were recovered after heavy fighting at Karukaykulam Friday morning,” LTTE’s military spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan was quoted as saying.
The rebels did not divulge casualties on their side.
Brig. Nanayakkara rejected the LTTE claims of killing 30 government soldiers and reiterated that only three soldiers were killed and five missing after Friday’s clashes.
Independent verifications of the casualties is not possible as journalists are barred from visiting the battlefront.