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Fighting in Sri Lanka kills 29 rebels

More than 30 people have been killed in fighting in northern Sri Lanka, the military said, after the government dismissed a declaration by Tamil Tiger rebels of a brief unilateral ceasefire.

world Updated: Jul 23, 2008 23:47 IST

More than 30 people have been killed in fighting in northern Sri Lanka, the military said on Wednesday, after the government dismissed a declaration by Tamil Tiger rebels of a brief unilateral ceasefire.

An e-mail statement from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) early on Tuesday said the rebels would refrain from military action during the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) conference from July 26 to August 6. But Sri Lanka rejected the rebel gesture and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said the government would not abide by it.

“Ground battles killed 29 LTTE terrorists and injured 58 on Tuesday,” said a spokesman at the Media centre for National Security on Wednesday, referring to fighting in the northern districts of Jaffna, Vavuniya and Welioya.

The military also said the fighting had killed three solders and injured 12. The fighting comes a week after the military's claim it had dealt a "fatal blow" to the Tamil Tiger rebels, with the capture of the northwestern town of Vidattaltivu, the main base of the Tigers’ sea wing and their logistics hub for the region.

Sri Lanka’s government is pursuing a strategy to gradually retake the Tiger’s northern stronghold and win the 25-year civil war amidst an almost daily barrage of land, sea and air attacks in northern rebel-held territories.

Sri Lanka's 2002 Norwegian-backed ceasefire pact with the Tamil Tigers formally ended in January after the government decided to scrap it, arguing that the rebels were using it to buy time to regroup and rearm.