COLOMBO, Sep 27 (Reuters) Sri Lankan soldiers killed 11 Tamil Tiger rebels in overnight battles in the north of the island and a roadside bomb killed two civilians, the military said today.
The violence in the restive northern districts of Jaffna and Vavuniya, the focus of renewed civil war between the state and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was the latest in a series of near daily clashes in recent months.
''The army killed four LTTE terrorists who tried to infiltrate through the forward defence line in Jaffna and another seven in Vavuniya,'' said a spokesman at the Media Centre for National Security. He said one soldier was killed and another wounded.
The military also said a suspected Tamil Tiger mine explosion in Jaffna peninsula killed two civilians and injured 17, including two police officers.
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, were not immediately available for comment on the latest clash.
The rebels said a civilian was killed in a roadside blast in the northwestern district of Mannar which they blamed on the military.
The military has launched an offensive to drive out the rebels from Mannar, after evicting them from jungle terrain they controlled in the east earlier this year.
Around 5,000 people have been killed in fighting between the military and the LTTE guerrillas since early 2006.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced since the war erupted in 1983.
REUTERS SS RN1628