March 29, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan government troops killed at least 46 rebels during weekend battles in the northeast of the island where they have cornered the Tamil Tiger guerrillas, the defence ministry said Sunday. Verification of battlefield claims is almost impossible as the authorities do not allow independent journalists and international observers to travel to the area. The Tiger fighters were shot dead in two days of fighting in and around the town of Puthukkudiriruppu, the ministry said in a statement.
Military officials say the rebels have been pushed back into a narrow strip of jungle coastline and will be wiped out by next month.
“Sporadic fighting and small scale door-to-door operations are continuing in the area targeting enemy pockets and resistance positions,” the ministry said.
There was no immediate comment from the Tigers, but the pro-rebel Tamilnet website accused the military of shelling civilian areas and killing 179 people since Thursday.
The military denies targeting civilians and in turn blames the Tigers for holding tens of thousands as human shields.
The international community, led by the United Nations, has raised concerns for the safety of civilians trapp