Heavy battles in Sri Lanka claim 27 lives: military

Sept 24, 2007 (AFP) – Heavy fighting between security forces and Tamil rebels in northern Sri Lanka has left at least 27 people dead, military officials said Monday.

The LTTE lost at least 20 men in pre-dawn clashes Monday on the Jaffna peninsula, according to the defence ministry. Another three Tigers were killed in the Wanni region further south, it added.

Government troops were attempting to break into territory in Wanni where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) run a mini-state.

The fighting also left two security personnel, including an officer, dead and 30 soldiers wounded on Sunday. Another two were killed and 15 wounded in Jaffna early Monday, officials said.

There was no immediate word from the LTTE about its losses, which could not be confirmed independently.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website said both sides traded artillery fire in the Mannar district, part of the Wanni region.

“The Sri Lanka army had suffered casualties in a ground operation launched Sunday in Thampanai area (in the Wanni),” Tamilnet said without elaborating.

The clashes came after the government’s top defence official offered Sunday to halt mi