Sri Lankan troops launch counter-attack in the north

May 20th, 2008 - 1:06 pm ICT by admin  

Colombo, May 20 (DPA) Government troops launched a counter-attack on Tamil rebels in northern Sri Lanka, killing at least 12 rebels and losing three soldiers, military officials said Tuesday. The fighting was reported around the Palampiddi area, 330 km north of the capital, Monday. The military said the counter-attack came after an assault by the rebels on a newly established army defence line in the area.

On Sunday, at least 15 soldiers and more than 50 rebels were killed as troops advanced to capture the Palampiddi area.

But the pro-rebel Tamilnet website said the rebels thwarted a ground attack by the army, killing 26 soldiers. The rebels said that after the battle they found the bodies of six government soldiers.

The site said the army had used multi-barrel rocket launchers and mortar fire in the fighting that lasted for six hours.

The rebels claimed they captured some of the military hardware of the soldiers, including two rocket-propelled grenades, six T-56 assault rifles, eight RPG shells and propellers and about 7,000 rounds of ammunition.

There was no independent verification of the casualty figures given by both sides. Journalists are not allowed into the rebel-held areas in the north.

Government troops have been trying to recapture the Tamil rebel-held areas in the north, triggering heavy fighting during the past four months. More than 4,000 rebels, soldiers and civilians have been killed in the fighting.

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