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At least 54 combatants killed in heavy fighting in Sri Lanka

At least 54 combatants killed in heavy fighting in Sri Lanka

At least 54 combatants were killed in heavy clashes between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels in the country's volatile east, the military said Saturday.
"We have recovered 12 Tamil Tiger bodies while soldiers had observed 40 others in front of our defense line," said military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe. Two soldiers were also killed.
Samarasinghe said the Tigers launched an attack on a military camp in Mankerni in Batticaloa district early Friday. The army, supported by fighter helicopters, repulsed the attack but exchanges of artillery and mortar fire continued throughout the day.
The rebels confirmed the clashes but said only five of their fighters were killed.
"More than 30 army troopers were killed," Tiger regional leader S. Elilan was quoted as saying on the pro-rebel TamilNet Web site.
Both sides are known to exaggerate each other's death tolls, and independent confirmation of the casualty claims was not possible.
The latest fighting, which each side denied initiating, came after the government said this week it was ready to resume stalled peace talks with the rebels later this month in Switzerland.
Nordic cease-fire monitors said the clashes put the talks into "jeopardy."
The military said the Tigers _ formally the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam _ launched the attack while the rebels accused the army of starting the offensive in a bid to grab rebel-held territory in the east.
A spokesman for the Nordic cease-fire monitoring mission, Thorfinnur Omarsson, said it was difficult to say who started the latest clashes as the ongoing fighting meant monitors were unable to assess the ground situation.
Peace talks are planned for Oct. 28-29 in Switzerland. The last round, aimed at ending two decades of civil war, took place in February.
The Norway-brokered 2002 cease-fire temporarily ended Sri Lanka's civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers, who want to carve out a separate homeland in the north and east for the country's ethnic Tamil minority, citing decades of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese.
About 65,000 people died in the conflict before the truce.
Renewed fighting since late July has left at least another 1,000 combatants and civilians dead.
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On the Net:
http://www.TamilNet.com


Updated : 2021-02-25 13:06 GMT+08:00