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Sri Lanka bombs rebel base: military

Sri Lankan air force jets bombed and destroyed a base used by Tamil Tiger rebels as new battles in the civil war killed 24 people, the military said.

world Updated: Jul 30, 2008 12:18 IST

Sri Lankan air force jets bombed and destroyed a base used by Tamil Tiger rebels on early Wednesday as new battles in the civil war killed 24 people, the military said.

The airstrike targeted a training center used by the so-called Black Tigers and took place deep inside rebel territory, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. The pilots confirmed destroying the base, he said.

Other fighting on Tuesday across the front lines in the north killed 20 rebels and four soldiers, he said.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan was not immediately available for comment.

Both sides routinely exaggerate enemy casualties and underreport their own. Independent verification of the fighting is not possible because journalists are barred from the war zone. The new fighting erupted despite the rebels' declaration that they would observe a unilateral cease-fire starting on Saturday in honor of an upcoming summit of regional leaders in Colombo. The rebels have said, however, they would defend themselves if the government attacks.

The government has rejected the cease-fire gesture and continued its offensive against their de facto state in the north, saying the rebels are trying to buy themselves time to regroup after a series of battlefield losses.

The Tamil rebels have been fighting for an independent state in the north and east since 1983, following decades of marginalization by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Fighting escalated in recent months after the government vowed to crush the rebels by the end of the year.