Sri Lanka mine kills two police commandos: military

May 1, 2008 (AFP) – Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels on Thursday set off a roadside mine in northern Sri Lanka, killing two police commandos, the defence ministry said. The Claymore mine, packed with steel balls, exploded in Kebethigollewa as troops were clearing the road for mines, the military said, adding that troops fired at fleeing guerrillas and shot dead two rebels.

The blast came after ground troops backed by Mi-24 helicopter gunships advanced towards rebel defence lines in the northern district of Mannar on Wednesday, killing 53 rebels, according to the military.

There was no immediate comment from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have been fighting government troops since 1972 to carve out a separate homeland for minority Tamils.

Security forces have killed at least 3,272 rebels since January, according to the defence ministry, which says 236 soldiers have died in the same period.

Both sides are known to announce wildly fluctuating casualty figures, which cannot be independently verified as Colombo bars reporters and rights groups from travelling to the embattled areas. .