Sri Lanka combatants claim high casualties

Feb 9, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lankan government troops and Tamil Tiger guerrillas claimed on Saturday to have inflicted heavy casualties against each other in fierce fighting in the country’s north. The defence ministry said 25 Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in heavy fighting on Friday, while the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) reported they had killed 22 troopers.

The pro-rebel tamilnet.com reported fighting lasted for eight hours in the district of Mannar on Friday and that the guerrillas beat back a military push into rebel-held territory. They reported no losses of their own.

However, the defence ministry said security forces captured an area previously held by the guerrillas.

The defence ministry said two soldiers had been killed.

The latest ministry statements raised the number of guerrillas it has said have been killed this year to 1,018. This figure represents just over one third of the Tiger’s total fighting force, according to previous military estimates.

The rebel losses compare with just 44 government soldiers killed during the same period, according to defence ministry figures. The government or Tiger claims cannot be independently verified as jour