Sri Lanka military says kills 14 rebels in push
Thursday, 14 August 2008

COLOMBO, Wed Aug 13, (bdnews24.com/Reuters) - Sri Lankan troops killed 14 Tamil Tiger rebels and captured rebel positions in the far north of the island, as government forces continued their push into the rebels' stronghold there, the military said on Wednesday.

The military also said they captured one of the rebels' administrative centers on Wednesday, hurting their ability to move by sea along the island nation's northwestern coast.

"Army troops after days of fighting, captured Mulankavil area in Kilinochchi, one of (the rebels') main administrative hubs," Nanayakkara said.

"This will further restrict sea Tiger activities in the western coast."

Fighting a day earlier in several northern districts, which killed 18 people, came as the air force said gunship helicopters bombed rebel positions in support of ground troops.

"Troops captured two bunkers belonging to the LTTE terrorists located in Palamodai in Vavuniya during heavy clashes on Tuesday, killing three LTTE cadres, and five more were wounded," said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, referring to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

(LTTE).

The military said Tuesday's fighting also killed another 11 Tamil Tiger rebels and 38 were wounded, while four soldiers died and 14 were wounded.

The fighting came days after the military claimed its forces had entered the Vanni region in the north where the rebels' de-facto capital Kilinochchi is located, amid an almost-daily barrage of land, sea and air attacks.

The Tigers, fighting for 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.

So far this year, according to a compilation of military data, about 5,734 rebels have been killed in the fighting with the loss of 756 soldiers.

Both sides frequently underplay their losses and exaggerate their victories. Independent verification of their claims is difficult.

Sri Lanka's government is pursuing a strategy to gradually retake the Tiger's northern stronghold and win the 25-year civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people.

Analysts say the military has an advantage in the latest phase of the war given its superior air power, strength of numbers and swathes of terrain captured in the island's east. But they still see no clear winner on the horizon.

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