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37 Tamil rebels killed in Sri Lanka

world Updated: Jan 27, 2008 14:40 IST

At least 37 Tamil tiger rebels were killed in fierce fighting with the government soldiers since Saturday, a defence official said on Sunday.

Separate clashes took place in Palamadu, Madu south, Vilaththikulam, Parayanakulam and Kallikulam areas in the north of the island, killing 22 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels on Saturday morning.

By afternoon, 11 more Tamil tiger rebels were killed in northeastern Welioya. Three rebels were killed at the Muhamalai forward defence lines in northern Jaffna on Saturday night. A government soldier was also killed in the clashes, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Special Task Force (STF) of the police said they had gunned down a rebel leader in Kaluwanchikudy in the eastern Batticaloa district early on Sunday.

The clashes between government forces and the rebels have increased since the government announced its unilateral withdrawal from the Norwegian backed ceasefire on January 16.

The government has vowed to crush the rebel strongholds in northern province within this year to bring an end to the islands' over three-decade-old armed conflict.

Eastern province was cleared of rebels by the government soldiers in July last year and elections would soon be held in the province to appoint a provincial council, President Mahinda Rajapakse announced last week.

The Tamil rebels have been fighting the government troops since the mid 1980s to carve out a separate homeland for the minority Tamils.