Sri Lanka kills 13 Tiger rebels as violence escalates

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COLOMBO, Oct 10 (Reuters) Sri Lankan soldiers killed 13 Tamil Tiger rebels in clashes on the northern end of the war-torn island, the military said today.

The fighting broke out in the districts of Jaffna and Mannar, now the focus of the renewed civil war between the state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who want an independent state for minority ethnic Tamils in the north and east.

''The army killed 10 terrorists who came to attack the Forward Defence Line in Jaffna yesterday and another confrontation in Mannar killed two LTTE cardes,'' said a military spokesman, adding that three soldiers were wounded in the clash at Mannar.

The military said they had also recovered the body of a Tamil Tiger rebel in the eastern district of Ampara after a confrontation involving police commandos.

The LTTE was not immediately available for comment and there was no independent confirmation of how many people were killed or the circumstances. Military analysts say both sides tend to exaggerate enemy losses and play down their own.

The military has launched an offensive to drive the rebels out of Mannar after evicting them from jungle terrain they controlled in the east earlier this year.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced since the war erupted in 1983, some 5,000 of them since the conflict quickened in early 2006.

REUTERS PD RK1550

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