Six said killed in Sri Lanka clashes

COLOMBO, April 22, 2007 (AFP) – Tamil Tiger rebels and government forces fought two gunbattles in Sri Lanka’s restive north and east leaving at least six rebels killed, the defence ministry said Sunday. Gunmen of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) clashed with troops at Vavuniya, 260 kilometres (160 miles) north of Colombo, on Saturday drawing fire from security forces, the ministry said.

It said five Tiger rebels were killed in the confrontation but did not say if troops suffered any casualties.

In a similar clash in the eastern district of Ampara, a Tiger rebel was shot dead by Special Task Force police commandos on Saturday, the ministry said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Tigers, who have been fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils from the majority Sinhalese island.

More than 4,000 people have been killed since December 2005 in a new wave of fighting despite a truce in place since February 2002. The conflict has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972.