Fighting kills 35 in Sri Lanka: military

May 2, 2008 (AFP) – At least 34 Tamil Tiger rebels and a soldier died in the latest battles in the island’s restive north, the defence ministry said Friday. Security forces smashed rebel bunkers and engaged in artillery fire with Tamil separatists in the regions of Vavuniya, Jaffna, Mannar and Weli Oya on Thursday killing 34 guerrillas, the ministry said in a statement.

The military said they also captured the town of Karuppukulam in the Mannar district on Thursday and placed their own losses at one soldier dead and six injured.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were not immediately available for comment.

After ejecting the LTTE from the east last year, security forces are trying to take vast swathes of land under LTTE control in the north.

At least 3,318 LTTE cadres have been killed by government troops since January, according to the defence ministry, which says 242 soldiers have died in the same period.

Both sides often inflate enemy casualty figures and downplay their own losses. The reports cannot be independently verified as Colombo bars reporters and rights groups from travelling to the embattled areas. .