Rebels kill seven soldiers: Sri Lankan Army

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Colombo, Oct 16: Seven soldiers were killed when Tamil Tiger rebels attacked Sri Lanka government forces in the south of the island, far from the usual battlegrounds in the north, the military said today.

The last evening attack on government forces located in the southeastern wildlife park of Yala, a popular tourist destination, is the latest in a series of near daily clashes in recent months amid intensified civil war between the state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

''The reinforcement troops (who) reached the detachment had recovered six dead bodies of soldiers,'' said Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara.

The military said another soldier was killed when a tractor sent to transport the bodies hit a pressure mine laid by the rebels near the army detachment.

The rebels, fighting for an independent state for minority ethnic Tamils in the north and east, were not immediately available for comment.

The military has launched an offensive to drive the rebels from the northwestern district of 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>

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