34 killed in Sri Lanka fighting
Fierce trench warfare and a series of ambushes in northern Sri Lanka killed 31 rebels and three soldiers, the military said Thursday.
The battles part of an escalation in the fighting between the Tamil Tiger rebels and government troops in recent months erupted in the Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya areas throughout the day Wednesday.
In one particularly deadly fight in Vavuniya, troops captured a rebel bunker and killed eight guerrilla fighters after nine hours of clashes, the military said in a statement.
Others battles and ambushes along the civil war's front lines in the north killed 23 Tamil Tiger fighters and three soldiers, the military said.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not be reached for comment. Each side commonly exaggerates its enemy's casualties while underreporting their own.
It is not possible to get independent accounts of the clashes because journalists are barred from the war zone. The rebels have been fighting since 1983 to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils, who have been marginalized by successive governments controlled by ethnic Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
Meanwhile, another soldier was killed Wednesday near the eastern town of Trincomalee from injuries sustained in a wild elephant attack, the military said.