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'SL jets destroy three Tamil Tiger boats'

world Updated: Apr 21, 2008 14:47 IST

AP
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Sri Lankan fighter jets attacked the Tamil Tiger naval wing early on Monday, destroying three rebel boats as fighting raged between the two sides in the country's civil war, the military said.

Government troops also attacked a rebel base across the front lines in the Mannar region early on Monday, killing seven rebels, Nanayakkara said. A day earlier, fighting left 33 combatants dead, the military said.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan was not immediately available for comment. Both sides routinely release inflated casualty figures for the other side and underreport their own losses. Independent accounts of the fighting are unavailable because there is no media access to the war zone.

Alerted by navy intelligence early Monday, air force jets attacked two Sea Tiger boats parked on the coast of Mullaittivu, inside the rebels' de facto state in the north, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.

A third boat, which was floating in nearby waters and had a weapon mounted on it, was also destroyed in the air strike, he said. Fighting on Sunday killed 28 rebels and five soldiers, he said.

The violence came after rebels accused government forces of infiltrating their territory Sunday and setting off a roadside bomb that killed a Roman Catholic priest who was also a human rights activist. The military denied the attack.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for Tamils, who have been marginalized for decades by successive governments controlled by majority Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.