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Sri Lanka says 9 rebels killed in attacks

[AP, Monday, 8 December 2008 19:23 No Comment]

Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan soldiers killed nine Tamil Tiger separatists Monday in two major attacks in the island’s north and east, the military said.

 

Troops trying to capture the rebels’ northeastern coastal stronghold of Mullaitivu confronted a group of rebels in Otiyamalai village, the military said in a statement. The soldiers later found five rebels’ bodies and assault rifles, it said.

 

Hours earlier, soldiers ambushed and killed four rebels in the government-controlled eastern district of Ampara, the statement said.

 

The government last year said its forces had cleared the whole Eastern Province of rebels, but the Tamil Tigers have continued to operate in small cells and carry out surprise attacks in the region.

Elsewhere in the north, troops captured two rebel bunkers Sunday and destroyed another as they inched closer to the guerrillas’ de facto capital of Kilinochchi, the Defense Ministry said. It did not release casualty details.

 

Rebels could not be contacted for comment on the reports because communication lines to rebel territory have been severed.

 

Separately Monday, Parliament approved a 6.4 percent jump in defense spending for 2009 to 177 billion rupees ($1.6 billion), the most ever spent on defense in the island nation.

 

Government troops have moved deep into rebel territory and captured a number of key bases and towns but are still locked in heavy battles at the edge of Kilinochchi.

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