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Sri Lankan military: Heavy fighting rages in north

[AP, Thursday, 25 December 2008 10:50 No Comment]

Sri Lankan soldiers found the bodies of three Tamil Tiger rebels killed in the latest fighting in the embattled northern region as air force fighter jets bombed militants building fortifications to protect their de facto capital, the military said Thursday.

 

Fighting has escalated in recent months in the 25-year-old civil war and the military has captured a series of rebel bases and large chunks of territory in the north.

 

In recent weeks, however, forces have been locked in intense battles with Tamil guerillas on the edge of the rebels’ de facto capital of Kilinochchi and made little progress.

 

In the latest fighting soldiers found the bodies of three rebels near Kilinochchi along with three assault rifles Wednesday, said a defense ministry statement. Also Wednesday, rebel mortar fire wounded several soldiers in the same area, it said.

 

Air force fighter jets bombed Tamil rebels building an earth berm fortification to protect Kilinochchi from advancing government troops Wednesday night, a separate military statement said.

With most communication to the north severed in the fighting, rebel spokesmen could not be contacted for comment.

 

With reporters banned from the war zone, Sri Lanka’s media must rely largely on government and rebel statements for information about the war.

 

Officials have pledged to crush the guerrillas by the end of the year.

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