Tiger rebels ambush Sri Lankan military post
Fighting between the Tigers and security forces has escalated as the Govt has stepped up attempts to rout rebels from North and East.india Updated: Jan 22, 2007 12:41 IST
Tamil Tiger rebels ambushed an eastern Sri Lanka military post and killed at least two soldiers, officials said on Monday, days after soldiers captured several main rebel bases, leaving dozens of rebels dead.
Military spokesman Brig Prasad Samarasinghe said the rebel attack took place at Batticaloa district's Vavunativu village late on Sunday.
The area is about 50 kms south of Vaharai village, scene of the fierce weekend fighting.
The rebels could not immediately be reached for comment on the government's reports.
Fighting between the Tigers and security forces has escalated in the past few months as the government has stepped up attempts to rout insurgents from parts of the north and east.
The rebels have been fighting since 1983 to establish an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's minority ethnic Tamils following decades of discrimination under the majority Sinhalese-dominated government.
A 2002 truce still exists on paper, but has virtually collapsed since the resurgence of large-scale fighting last year.
On Sunday morning, army troops killed at least 18 Tigers as they tried to flee into rebel-held jungle in Batticaloa district, Samarasinghe said.
Troops also found the bodies of 22 rebels killed in an army assault Saturday on several rebel bases in Batticaloa district's Kathiraveli and Vaharai villages, he said.
On Saturday, the army took control for the first time in 11 years of a main road connecting the island nation's two main towns, Batticaloa and Trincomalee.
Vaharai village, on an impoverished rebel-held strip of coastline in Batticaloa district, has been the scene of heavy fighting for months with over 500 combatants killed since October, according to the military.
The government says the Tigers used Vaharai as a transit point to smuggle drugs and arms into the country, and as a base for naval attacks.
The army's capture of Vaharai sent thousands of terrified villagers fleeing toward the neighboring government-held village of Mankerni, from where they were transported to several refugee camps far from the battle zone.
They are staying in flimsy tents and crowded school facilities.
Worried Tamil parents said their children were being detained as security forces screened refugees for suspected rebels.