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S Lanka Tigers say raid army-backed paramilitaries

Written by: Staff

COLOMBO, Apr 30 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels said they raided camps belonging to renegade ex-rebels the Karuna group in army territory today, killing 20 as war fears remain high after a suicide bombing and military air strikes.

The rebels say the government uses fighters led by former Tiger eastern commander Karuna Amman as ''army-backed paramilitaries'' to attack the mainstream Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) -- a charge the government denies.

''It is a very severe blow for the paramilitary groups and for the Sri Lankan army,'' head of the Tiger peace secretariat S Puleedevan told Reuters by satelite phone from rebel territory.

''We have burnt the camps and a lot of arms and ammunition provided by the Sri Lankan army,'' he added.

He said the rebels had come under artillery fire from nearby army camps during the attack, but were withdrawing back behind their own lines with only one Tiger fighter wounded. Twenty Karuna fighters were killed and 15 wounded, he said.

None of the information could be independently confirmed.

The army denied there had been any shelling, and said all they knew was there had been fighting between Tiger and Karuna forces in jungle areas not really controlled by either side. They have always denied knowing where the Karuna camps were, but Nordic truce monitors said the army, at best, turns a blind eye.


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