A series of mortar attacks and gunbattles between government troops and Tamil rebels across northern Sri Lanka killed 11 insurgents, while suspected rebels killed two Tamil political activists in the east, the military said Thursday.
In the first attack about 9 a.m. Wednesday, Tamil Tigers fired mortar shells at troops in the Vavuniya district just south of rebel-held territory in Sri Lanka's north. The troops retaliated with mortars, artillery and gunfire, killing three rebels, the military said.
About 5:30 p.m., the Tigers fired mortar rounds into the nearby Mannar area, sparking a retaliatory attack, the military said. No casualties were reported.
An hour later, army troops fired rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade at rebels attempting to cross the northern front line into the Jaffna peninsula, killing seven rebels, the military said.
Both sides in the more than two-decade-old civil war routinely exaggerate casualty figures for their opponents, and Tamil Tiger spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan denied the military's claim.
"There were routine confrontations, but none of our fighters suffered casualties," he said.
On Thursday, suspected rebels fatally shot two members of the Eelam People's Democratic Party, a Tamil party opposed to the guerrillas, the military said. The shooting occurred in the eastern Batticaloa district.
The EPDP, a coalition partner in the government, has in the past been targeted by Tamil rebels, their bitter rivals.
Ilanthirayan declined to comment on the attack, saying he did not have information on it.
The Tigers have been fighting since 1983 to carve out a state for minority Tamils in northern and eastern Sri Lanka after decades of discrimination by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting.