Colombo, Sep 25: Sri Lankan troops killed and wounded dozens of Tamil Tiger rebels in a series of battles in the far north, the military said today, the latest clashes in a quickening of the two-decade civil war.
Nine Tamil Tiger rebels were killed and 36 wounded in one battle in the northwestern district of Mannar yesterday, after at least 10 Tiger rebels and possibly more than 20 were killed in two other clashes in the north the same day.
In a separate incident early today, a civilian was killed in a suspected rebel roadside bomb attack in the army-held northern Jaffna peninsula, the Defence Ministry said.
''The army confronted a group of Tamil Tiger cadres. They were firing artillery at civilians. The confrontation killed nine LTTE cadres,'' military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said, reporting one of the clashes a day after the fact.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who say they are fighting for an independent state for minority ethnic Tamils in the north and east, said yesterday 10 of their fighters were killed in two separate clashes. The military put the rebel death toll at more than 20.
However, rebel military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan said he had no immediate details of the other confrontation referred to by Nanayakkara.
There was no independent confirmation of how many people were killed in the fighting or what had happened. Military analysts say both sides tend to exaggerate enemy losses and play down their own.
Around 5,000 people have been killed in fighting between the military and LTTE guerrillas since early 2006. Fighting is now focused on the north after troops this year drove the Tigers from eastern areas they controlled under the terms of a now-tattered ceasefire pact.
In all, nearly 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced since the war erupted in 1983.