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Sri Lanka fighting kills 74, mostly rebels PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Colombo, July 27 ( - Sri Lankan troops continued their offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels in two days of fighting in the north that killed 66 Tigers and eight soldiers, the military said on Saturday.

The fighting in the district of Jafna, Vavuiya Polonnaruwa, Mannar and Mullaitivu came three days after the government dismissed a declaration by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of a unilateral ceasefire from July 26 to Aug. 4.

"Our offensives are going on, troops had killed 66 LTTE terrorists in the fighting on Thursday and Friday," said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara.

"Eight soldiers had died and 11 were injured from the fighting," he added.

The Tigers were not immediately available for comment. The government and rebels trade death toll claims that are almost impossible to verify independently.

Sri Lanka's government is pursuing a strategy to gradually retake the Tiger's northern stronghold and win the 25-year civil war amidst an almost daily barrage of land, sea and air attacks in northern rebel-held territories.

The latest fighting comes a week after the military said it had dealt a "fatal blow" to the rebels with the capture of the northwestern town of Vidattaltivu, the main base of the Tigers' sea wing and their logistics hub for the region.

An email statement from the Tamil Tigers early on Tuesday said the rebels would refrain from military action during the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) conference from July 26 to Aug. 4.

But warned they would be forced to take "defensive action" if the military attacked them.

The government rejected the gesture.

Sri Lanka's 2002 Norwegian-backed ceasefire pact with the Tamil Tigers formally ended in January after the government decided to scrap it, arguing the rebels were using it to buy time to regroup and rearm.

The civil war has killed more than 70,000 people since it started. The Tigers have been fighting for an independent state in north and east Sri Lanka for minority Tamils since 1983.

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