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Sri Lanka army says nine killed in clashes

world Updated: Dec 03, 2007 21:55 IST

AFP
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Sri Lankan troops continued an offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels, killing at least nine guerrillas in separate ground attacks, the defence ministry said on Sunday.

Ground fighting around the northern districts of Vavuniya and Mannar continued, the ministry said, placing troop losses at five injured in the previous 24 hours.

No independent confirmation of the claim was available and journalists are rarely allowed to travel into rebel-held areas in the north.

There was no comment on the reported rebel casualties from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who have been fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the island's north and east since 1972.

Meanwhile, the government has imposed travel restrictions on civilians moving between rebel-held areas in the north to government-controlled areas, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.

Civilians from rebel-held areas will be allowed to leave only for medical treatment, prior appointments with government departments and other official business.

Nanayakkara said the move was a security measure to prevent rebels from infiltrating the island's south.

The move follows twin bomb attacks that rocked the capital of Colombo last week, which left 21 dead and injured over 40 people.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the separatist conflict, one of Asia's longest running wars.