Sri Lankan Troops Kill 45 Tiger Rebels
Saturday, 04 April 2009

The Sri Lankan military said government troops killed at least 45 Tamil Tiger separatist rebels in fierce battles on Friday in what the government says is its final push into the last rebel-held area.

The campaign to end a war that has lasted 25 years is centered on 21 square km (eight sq miles) along the northeastern coast of the Indian Ocean island, where the army has encircled Tamil Tiger fighters and tens of thousands of civilians.

"Troops recovered 45 bodies of LTTE (Tamil Tiger) terrorists who were killed from today's fighting," said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara. Troops also recovered arms and ammunition from the rebels, he added.

Nanayakkara quoted intelligence sources as saying that in two separate battles on March 31 and April 1 troops killed the leader and the deputy leader of the Tamil Tigers elite Charles Anthony brigade, which is named after the son and heir apparent to Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Government troops also recovered the bodies of 31 LTTE terrorists and 50 weapons on Thursday, the military added.

There was no independent confirmation available and the Tigers could not be reached for comment.

The Tigers on Tuesday accused the international community and the United Nations of applying a double standard by saying the rebels should comply with humanitarian law while ignoring what it says are attacks on civilians by the military.

The United Nations, rights groups and other nations have said the Tigers are holding people prisoner as human shields, and shooting those who try to leave. They have also said the government has shelled areas packed with civilians.

Both sides deny the allegations.

The United Nations, United States and Britain have all urged both sides to observe a humanitarian truce to let people trapped in the war zone escape.

The Tigers, who are on the terrorist lists of the United States, the European Union and Canada, on Tuesday accused foreign governments of not doing enough to push for a ceasefire.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday again rejected the call as a Tiger ruse to buy time to rearm, and said the war would go on until the Tigers surrender or are destroyed.

The Tigers have been fighting since 1983 to create a separate nation for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority, which complains of mistreatment at the hands of successive governments led by the Sinhalese majority since independence from Britain in 1948.


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