Fresh Sri Lanka violence kills 41: military

Jan 16, 2007 (AFP) – At least 30 Tamil rebels and 11 security personnel were killed in Sri Lanka on Tuesday in an upsurge of violence, officials and the defence ministry said.

Sri Lankan troops backed by warplanes launched a fresh offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels early Tuesday, killing at least 30 guerrillas for the loss of four soldiers during the confrontation, the defence ministry said.

Five more soldiers were killed in a claymore mine explosion in the north of the island, where two policemen were also killed in a similar bomb attack blamed on the Tiger rebels, military officials said.

In the east of the island, troops recovered a haul of arms and ammunition and captured a guerrilla defence line following an intense firefight with the Tigers, the defence ministry said in a statement.

However, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) dismissed military claims and said they beat back an army ground offensive, placing their losses at seven members wounded during a five-hour battle.

“We successfully beat back the military offensive and suffered only seven cadres from our side wounded,” Tiger military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan told AFP by telephone