Sri Lanka says 59 Tigers killed in two days of fighting

June 26, 2008 (AFP) – At least 59 Tamil Tiger rebels and government soldiers have been killed in the latest fighting in Sri Lanka’s north, the defence ministry said Thursday. Heavy fighting since Tuesday left 57 Tiger guerrillas and two soldiers killed in separate clashes across the districts of Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Jaffna, the ministry said.

It said Mi-24 helicopter gunships were deployed Wednesday to pound suspected positions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Mannar district.

There was no immediate word from the Tigers on the latest fighting, but the guerrillas in a statement said a civilian was killed in a mine attack carried out by government commandos inside rebel-held territory on Wednesday.

The defence ministry claims raise the number of rebels reported killed by government troops since the beginning of the year to 4,459, against the loss of 414 soldiers.

The government’s figure cannot be independently verified.