Jan 21, 2008 (AFP) – Fierce fighting erupted in northern Sri Lanka Monday as government forces mounted a fresh push into territory held by Tiger rebels, with the official death toll from the new clashes at more than 50. At least 46 civilians have been killed in rebel attacks since the start of January, according to military statements. Security forces launched a pre-dawn assault against a defence line of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the northern Jaffna peninsula and smashed at least two dozen guerrilla bunkers, the defence ministry said.
Fifteen rebels were killed and more than 30 wounded, while the military suffered two soldiers dead and nine wounded, the ministry said.
“Troops launched a multi-pronged surprise assault at LTTE positions ahead of Nagarkovil defences (in the Jaffna peninsula)… forcing terrorists to flee with soaring casualties,” it said in a statement.
The Tigers countered that they had beat back the military offensive, forcing the security forces to retreat to their original positions.
In a statement published on the pro-rebel Puthinam.com website, the LTTE said they killed three government soldiers and wounded more than a dozen during a 45-minute battle, whi