Sri Lanka military says 41 Tamil rebels killed

Oct 18, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s military said Thursday its troops killed 41 suspected Tamil Tigers in renewed clashes in the island’s north, although the rebels said some of the victims were civilians. The Sri Lankan navy fired early Thursday at a cluster of Tamil Tiger boats off the northwest coast.

They recovered an abandoned rebel boat with four bodies and three survivors, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website, however, said the boat was carrying seven civilians who were fleeing Sri Lanka for India, and that at least at least three members of the same family were killed.

Elsewhere in the north, the military said it had killed 37 rebels and wounded 14 in sporadic clashes across the embattled north and northeast over the past 24 hours.

The military put its own casualties at six soldiers injured.

No independent confirmation of the claims was immediately available, and there was no comment from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Both sides are known to exaggerate casualty figures.

Firing across the northern front line of Omanthai forced the Red Cross to pull back its staff on Wednesday, spokesman Davide Vignati said