Sri Lankan troops advance despite rain as casualties mount

October 20th, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Oct 20 (DPA) Sri Lankan troops advanced Monday into Tamil Tiger rebels-held areas in northern Sri Lanka despite heavy rain after losing at least 33 soldiers in weekend fighting, the defence ministry said.The troops were trying to consolidate their positions and advance in the Akkarayankulam and Maniyankulam areas in Kilinochchi district, 370 km north of Colombo.

The defence ministry said 33 soldiers were killed and three more were missing, while 48 more were injured in the fighting over the weekend in the same areas.

The bodies of 11 rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were also found during search operations, it said.

It was the first time the ministry had released details of government casualties in the weekend fighting.

Some officials said military operations were continuing Monday despite heavy rain, but other sources said the offensive was being slowed by flooding in flat terrain.

About 250,000 civilians have been displaced, and only a portion of them have been accommodated in schools and other government buildings while others are living in open areas.

The government vowed to crush the rebels by the end of the year.

The military launched its offensive in mid-2006 and have since captured rebel-held areas in the Eastern Province and parts of the Northern Province.

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