Sri Lankan soldiers captured and destroyed more Tamil Tiger rebel bunkers in fierce fighting across the embattled northern region, the military said on Monday. The new fighting came as soldiers are reportedly closing in on the rebels' administrative capital of Kilinochchi in a campaign aimed at routing the guerrillas and ending a 25-year-old war that has killed more than 70,000 people.
In the latest fighting on Sunday, the army captured and destroyed several rebel bunkers in "massive" attacks, the military said in a statement.
Soldiers captured three rebel bunkers and three trenches in the village of Andankulam in Mullaitivu and several more bunkers in other areas, it said.
A bunker in the village of Kokkavil was destroyed, as was another in Nachchikuda village near Kilinochchi, the military said. It said soldiers inflicted heavy casualties on the Tamil Tigers in all the attacks, but did not give casualty details in line with a new government policy.
It is not possible to obtain independent accounts of clashes because movements by journalists in the war zone are restricted. Rebel spokesmen could not be reached because many communication lines have been severed.
Government troops have made dramatic progress in recent months, seizing a series of rebel bases and chunks of land, but the rebels have put up stiff resistance.
The Tamil Tiger rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils who have suffered marginalization at the hands of successive governments controlled by ethnic Sinhalese.