SL says fighting kills 45
Saturday, 28 June 2008

REUTERS, COLOMBO - Sri Lankan troops killed 43 Tamil Tiger rebels in the island's far north while two soldiers died, the military said on Friday, as the country's 25-year-old civil war escalates.

"Troops killed 43 LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) terrorists and injured 42 in Thursday's fighting in Vavuniya, Mannar, Welioya. Two soldiers died and five were injured from the fighting," said a military spokesman at the Media centre for National Security.

The military said airforce fighter jets bombed rebel special unit bases and training camps in the rebel-held north on Friday morning, but gave no details of casualties or damage.

Since Monday, 124 rebels and 12 soldiers have been killed in fighting, the military said.

The LTTE, fighting to create an independent state in north and east Sri Lanka for ethnic Tamils, a minority in the predominantly Sinhalese country, were not immediately available for comment.

Analysts say the military has the upper hand in the latest phase of the long-running war given superior air power, strength of numbers and swathes of terrain captured in the island's east, though they still see no clear winner on the horizon.

An estimated 70,000 people have died since the civil war began in 1983.

The Tigers regularly retaliate with suicide attacks increasingly targeting civilians and roadside bombs, experts and the military say, deterring some tourists and worrying investors in the $27 billion economy.

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