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More than 100 killed in S.Lanka fighting: Tigers

[AFP, Monday, 22 December 2008 17:19 No Comment]

Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels claimed killing at least 100 government soldiers on Monday while beating back a fresh offensive against their besieged political capital in the island’s north.

 

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) repulsed a two-pronged assault against the town of Kilinochchi after seven hours of fighting, a senior Tiger official, S. Puleedevan said.

 

He told the pro-rebel Tamilnet website that they also wounded more than 250 government troops, but did not give details of rebel casualties.

 

His claim came hours after the military said that security forces killed at least 56 Tamil Tiger rebels for the loss of 10 soldiers killed in fresh fighting on Monday.

 

About 40 soldiers and 90 rebels were wounded in the battles outside Kilinochchi, the military said in a statement.

 

The latest clashes came a day after the Tigers said they killed another 60 soldiers and wounded 150 in a counter attack on the outskirts of Kilinochchi over the weekend.

 

Both sides are known to make exaggerated claims about casualties they have inflicted on each other, and independent verification is virtually impossible as journalists and aid workers are barred from the conflict area.

 

Sri Lanka’s military also carried out air attacks against suspected Tamil Tiger targets earlier on Monday to support ground troops, the military statement said.

 

Meanwhile President Mahinda Rajapakse asked the LTTE to allow 300,000 civilians in rebel-held areas to move away from the fighting.

 

"With the dawn of 2009, the LTTE should release all innocent Tamil people it is holding hostage and in bondage using them as human shields, and allow them to come to the safe areas," the president said in a statement on Monday.

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