Sri Lanka air force hits rebels: 10 die in clashes

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Colombo, Nov 25: The Sri Lankan air force pounded Tamil Tiger rebel positions in the restive north while seven rebels and three security forces personnel died in ground fighting on the island, the military said today.

The air raid in rebel-held Kilinochchi in the north and the clashes in Vavuniya and Mannar were the latest engagements in intensified fighting between government forces and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels.

''Air force jets bombed an LTTE satellite communications and coordinating centre in (the) Dharampuram area northeast of Kilinochchi on Sunday morning,'' said a spokesman at the Media Centre for National Security, adding that details of casualties were not immediately available.

The military said separately that ground fighting yesterday in Vavuniya and Mannar in the north killed seven Tamil Tiger rebels, while a mine blast in Mannar killed a soldier and a rebel Claymore fragmentation mine killed two police personnel in the eastern district of Batticaloa.

The military also said fighting on Friday killed 14 rebels and left three soldiers wounded.

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. There was no independent confirmation and military analysts say both sides exaggerate enemy losses and play down their own.

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

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


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