67 killed as Lankan army, LTTE clash in north

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Colombo, Apr 23 (UNI) Sri Lanka today claimed that army troops launching a pre-dawn offensive operation in the northern Jaffna peninsula have killed at least 52 Tamil Tiger guerillas and lost 15 of its own cadres.

''Jaffna theatre of battle heated up since early this morning, as Sri Lankan Army 55 and 53 Divisions put-on stiff resistance to an LTTE embarked fresh offensive at the Army forwards defences on the Muhamalai and Kilaly frontiers,'' the Defence Ministry claimed.

It said the Jaffna heavy fighting began at 0200 hrs (local time) as troops mounted retaliatory attacks at the offensive LTTE formations.

''So far, 15 soldiers have laid their lives while 74 suffered injuries and some of them have been air lifted to Colombo national hospital. Meanwhile, monitored radio communications and ground sources confirmed that 52 LTTE terrorists have been killed and many injured in the latest skirmishes in Jaffna,'' the Defence Ministry added.

Claiming that the troops captured fresh LTTE territories in the north, it said the troops ''are now engaged in consolidating the defence lines''.

Thousands of people have been killed due to spiraling of fresh violence in the island nation, where the Tamil Tigers are fighting to carve out a separate state of Eelam over the past two decades.

There was no immediate reaction from the LTTE in this regard.

UNI XC SKB AS1542

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