Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka says kills 38 rebels in week as war rages on

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COLOMBO, May 18 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan troops killed nearly 40 Tamil Tiger rebels over the past week, the military said on Friday, after a spate of clashes in the island's war-ravaged north and east.

Troops have recovered the bodies of 13 rebels at the sites of clashes in the northwestern district of Mannar, northern district of Vavuniya and eastern district of Batticaloa, and closed two main "border" posts along defence lines that separate government from rebel-held territory after mortar bomb duels.

"There have been several confrontations. There are 38 confirmed dead in the past week, but we think the number could be higher," said military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe. "Two of our men were killed and 10 injured."

The dead included two rebels killed in the northern Jaffna peninsula early on Friday, five killed in the east on Thursday and 20 killed in the north on Wednesday and Thursday.

"It's a good hit, because it happened all over -- in Jaffna, in Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Mannar," Samarasinghe said.

The Tigers were not immediately available for comment on the death toll, but analysts say the foes each tend to exaggerate enemy losses and play down their own.

A new chapter in Sri Lanka's two-decade civil war has spread from the east, where troops evicted the rebels from their eastern stronghold last year, to the island's north -- where the Tigers run a de facto state.

The military have vowed to destroy the Tigers' military capability, while the rebels have vowed to launch more air raids by a homegrown air force of light planes smuggled into the country in pieces to further their fight for an independent state.

The international community is increasingly frustrated at both sides for ignoring calls to halt a conflict that has killed nearly 70,000 people since 1983.

Britain and the United States have both suspended some aid over human rights abuse concerns.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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