47 cadres killed as fighting escalates in Lanka

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{image-Sri Lanka_09022008.jpg news.oneindia.in}Colombo, Feb 9: At least 47 combatants, including 25 LTTE cadres were killed and several more wounded, as fierce fighting between the advancing government troops and the rebels continues to escalate in Sri Lanka's northern battle front, according to claims by both the warring parties.

''At least 25 LTTE terrorists were killed and many wounded yesterday in clashes at Wanni and northern defence lines,'' the Defence Ministry claimed, adding that sporadic clashes took place along the forward defences in Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Jaffna districts. In the northern Wanni region, the Ministry claimed that the troops ''moved into LTTE-dominated territory killing 12 terrorists'', including eight during direct gunfire exchange in general area.

''Intense fighting raged in Northern defences as troops continued to pound heavy artillery and mortars at identified LTTE bunker positions forcing terrorists to retreat further inland towards districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu with heavy casualties,'' the Ministry reported.

It said only one soldier was killed and five others wounded during these clashes during which the military claimed to have captured a key LTTE strong-hold known as Adampan in the Mannar district.

However, a pro-rebel website quoting LTTE sources in the Wanni claimed that at least 22 government soldiers were killed during clashes with the rebels in the Mannar district.

''At least 22 Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers were killed in two separate counter-attacks in Paalaikkuzhi, thwarting a fresh drive by the SLA in its attempt to move towards Adampan,'' Taminet.com website claimed.

It said more than 11 SLA soldiers were killed in direct combat which lasted for almost eight hours while another 11 were killed when the Tigers launched sniper attack on the government troops that had pulled back.

The website, however, did not mention anything about the losses to the rebels during these confrontations. Independent verification on the casualties and the death toll is not possible as journalists are barred from visiting the battlefront.


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