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34 rebels, 1 soldier killed in SL fighting

world Updated: Aug 29, 2008 11:48 IST
AP
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A wave of fighting across Sri Lanka's embattled northern region killed 34 Tamil Tiger rebels and one government soldier, the military said Friday.

The newly reported fighting took place on Thursday along the front lines separating government-controlled territory and the rebels' de facto state in the north, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nananyakkara.

The worst fighting occurred in the Vavuniya district, where soldiers killed 14 rebels before capturing the rebel-held Palamoddai village, Nanayakkara said. The same battle wounded 10 rebels and five soldiers.

Scattered battles in Kilinochchi killed 12 rebels and one soldier, while in Welioya, seven rebels died, he said. Another rebel was killed in Jaffna.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not be reached for comment immediately.

Both sides routinely exaggerate enemy casualties and underreport their own. Independent verification of the fighting is not possible because most journalists are barred from the war zone. Fighting has escalated in recent months on this war-torn Indian Ocean island, with the military capturing a series of rebel bases and large chunks of territory. Officials have reiterated a pledge to crush the guerrillas by the end of the year.

The rebels have fought for an independent state in the north and east since 1983, following decades of marginalization of ethnic Tamils by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

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