Sri Lanka claims killing 12 Tamil Tiger rebels

Dec 21, 2007 (AFP) – Clashes across frontlines in northern Sri Lanka have left at least 12 Tamil Tiger rebels dead, the defence ministry said Friday. Artillery duels took place on the Jaffna peninsula, and in Weli Oya, Vavuniya and Mannar, the military said, placing their own losses at two soldiers injured and one missing during the 24 hours ending Friday morning.

The claim of more rebel casualties brings the number of Tamil fighters killed since December 1 to at least 363, according to the defence ministry. This compares to just a tiny handful of government troops reported dead.

Both sides are known for making sharply differing claims about casualties suffered by the other, and the independent verification of casualty claims is rarely possible with the press barred from frontline and rebel-held areas.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet.com confirmed the fighting, but said the Tamil Tigers had successfully retaliated against government troops who tried to advance on rebel positions, killing two soldiers and losing none of their own.

Tens of thousands of people have died on both sides since the LTTE launched its armed struggle for a Tamil homela