18 killed, 45 wounded in Sri Lanka fighting

August 8th, 2008 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Aug 8 (IANS) At least 15 Tamil Tiger guerrillas and three government soldiers were killed and 45 wounded Thursday in fierce clashes in Sri Lanka’s north, the defence ministry said Friday. It said that advancing government troops attached to the 59 Division “encountered stiff resistance from the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)” in Mullaitivu jungles Thursday “as the soldiers were further closing in on the terror dens in Mullaitivu”.

Mullaitivu, which links the northern and eastern wings of Sri Lanka, is wholly controlled by the LTTE. Mullaitivu is where LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is said to be based.

The defence ministry said that the troops overpowered LTTE counterattacks “in close fighting” resulting in the death of 15 LTTE guerrillas and 38 wounded throughout Thursday.

“Further, three soldiers were killed, seven wounded and four went missing during these incidents,” the ministry said.

It added that the rebels probably would have taken the bodies of the missing soldiers “for propaganda purpose to boost the fast loosing morale among their ranks”.

The military said it recovered a rebel body along with his T-56 assault riffle and two hand grenades.

The military has over the past one year opened several fronts, determined to capture the rebel heartland of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Tigers in an e-mail to the media charged Friday that “indiscriminate and widespread shelling by the Sri Lankan Army Thursday night left a baby dead and 16 people injured.

“Shells fell and exploded in the villages of Neeravipiddi, Uduppukulam, Kumarapuram and Thanneeruttu surrounding the Mullaitivu hospital,” the LTTE peace secretariat said in the statement

There was no immediate reaction from the military.

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