Sri Lanka says kills 19 rebels, one soldier dead

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COLOMBO, Nov 15 (Reuters) Sri Lankan troops killed 19 Tamil Tiger rebels in clashes in the north of the island, the military said today.

One soldier was killed in the clashes in the Jaffna peninsula and Vavuniya, the latest in an offensive launched by the military to push the rebels deeper into their northern strongholds.

''Troops went ahead and attacked terrorist bunker lines in Muhamalai and Nargerkovil in Jaffna Peninsula today morning destroying eight bunkers and killing four terrorists,'' a spokesman at the Media Centre for National Security said.

He said 15 rebels and a soldier were killed in clashes in Vavuniya and Jaffna Peninsula yesterday.

The Tigers, who say they are fighting for an independent state for minority ethnic Tamils in the north and east, were not immediately available for comment.

Around 5,000 people have been killed in fighting between the military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters since early 2006. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced since the war erupted in 1983.

REUTERS PD BST1634

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