Sri Lanka says soldiers kill 10 Tamil Tiger rebels

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COLOMBO, Sep 14 (Reuters) Sri Lankan soldiers killed 10 Tamil Tiger rebels in a clash in the north of the island today, the military said, citing intercepts of rebel radio communications.

The clash follows an offensive launched by the military in early September to eject the Tamil rebels from the northwest Mannar area after having pushed them out of jungles in the east of the teardrop-shaped Indian Ocean nation.

''The soldiers attacked a group of terrorists who tried to infiltrate through the forward defence line,'' said a spokesman at the Media Centre for National Security, part of the defence ministry. ''Ground troops said intercepted radio communications confirm 10 terrorists killed.'' The military said two soldiers were wounded in the battle.

The rebels, who want an independent state for the Tamil minority in the north and the east of the country, were not immediately available for comment.

Today's clashes came a day after the military said it had attacked around 20 Tamil Tiger boats, and that the air force had bombed two rebel bases in the far north.

An estimated 5,000 people have died since last year in renewed fighting after a peace process collapsed.

About 70,000 people have been killed, including thousands of civilians, since 1983 when the civil war erupted.

REUTERS SBC BST1538

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