Sri Lanka clashes claim 19: military

May 4, 2008 (AFP) – Heavy fighting in northern Sri Lanka killed at least 18 Tiger rebels and one soldier, the defence ministry said Sunday. Government troops battled the rebels in the Mannar district on Saturday and claimed to have killed 18 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres and wounded 10 guerrillas, the statement said.

One soldier died during Saturday’s clashes while six troops were injured, it said.

There was no immediate comment from the LTTE, but the rebels in the past have rejected military casualty claims.

The latest fighting raises the number of rebels killed by security forces since January to 3,359 rebels, according to the defence ministry, which says 246 soldiers have died during the same period.

Both sides are known to downplay their own casualty figures and inflate enemy losses. Casualty figures cannot be independently verified as Colombo prevents media and rights groups from visiting the embattled areas. .