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Sri Lanka military sinks three rebel boats

In an ongoing sea battle in northwest coast, SL military have sunk three LTTE rebel boats.

india Updated: Nov 18, 2006 12:26 IST

Sri Lanka's military said it sank three Tamil Tiger rebel boats in a sea battle off the island's northwest coast early on Saturday, and that four navy sailors were wounded.

Military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said small navy patrol craft engaged the Tiger vessels off the Mannar peninsula, and that helicopter gunships were called in to help. He said no navy boats were sunk.

"Three LTTE boats were sunk, and four navy sailors have gunshot injuries, but their craft are intact," Samarasinghe said, adding that "The battle is still going on."

The Tigers were not immediately available for comment.

The clash comes amid a new chapter in the island's two decade civil war, which has killed more than 67,000 people since 1983 - more than 3,000 of those this year alone.

Fighting now occurs almostdaily in the north and east, where the Tigers run a de facto state they want recognised as a separate homeland for minority Tamils.

The international community has repeatedly called on the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to halt fighting that has displaced tens of thousands of civilians in the restive east and left a 2002 ceasefire in tatters.

First Published: Nov 18, 2006 11:44 IST