Colombo_(dpa) _ At least 12 persons, including a Hindu priest, were killed in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka as fighting escalated between government troops and Tamil rebels, military officials said Monday.
Six persons including the Hindu priest were killed when the Sri Lankan Navy stormed a Hindu temple on an island off the northern Jaffna peninsula on Sunday.
The military claimed five of them were rebels belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who had taken cover inside the temple and attacked the navy, which arrived at the location to carry out a search operation.
But the pro-rebel Tamilnet website said that six persons were killed when the navy carried out a search operation following an attack on a group of sailors on the previous day where a naval officer was killed on Kayts island, 420 kilometres north of the capital.
There was no independent confirmation about the incident.
Six more suspected rebels, including three female cadres, were killed in a confrontation with the army in Welioya, 320 kilometres north-east of the capital, on Monday morning.
The military said they had recovered three weapons left behind by the rebels.
Fighting in the north and eastern parts of Sri Lanka has left over 4,000 dead and more than 200,000 displaced during the past 15 months. dpa ad jh
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