Sri Lankan troops killed six Tamil Tiger rebel fighters in two separate attacks and launched an airstrike on a northern rebel area, the military said on Thursday. In one incident late Wednesday, soldiers raided a group of rebels preparing an attack along the frontier separating the Tigers' small de facto state from the government-controlled Jaffna peninsula to the north, a military statement said.
The fighting killed three rebels, while wounding two of them and two soldiers, the military said.
It said an earlier confrontation Wednesday in the Mannar area, south of rebel-held territory, killed three rebels. No further details were given.
On Thursday, Sri Lankan jets pounded an area along the front lines south of rebel-held territory that the guerrillas were using as a base to launch attacks on government troops, the military said. No word on casualties was available, according to the military. It was the second airstrike in two days. On Wednesday, air force jets had attacked a training camp of the Black Tigers, the rebel group's suicide fighters, the military said.
That attack was widely viewed as retaliation for a Black Tiger assault Monday on a government air base. It killed 14 troops and 20 rebels, and destroyed eight aircraft.
The rebels have been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's minority ethnic Tamils after decades of discrimination by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting, 5,000 of them since a 2002 cease-fire broke down in late 2005.