Sri Lanka says war losses higher

March 5, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka said Wednesday that 100 of its soldiers were killed and a further 800 wounded fighting the Tamil Tigers last month, showing the escalating conflict is bloodier than previously announced. The casualty figures were given in a statement to the national parliament by Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, and were sharply higher than those released by the island’s hawkish defence ministry.

“The number of security personnel killed last month was 104, while another 822 soldiers and police were wounded,” de Silva said, adding that 80 civilians were killed and 201 wounded in February.

Defence ministry tallies, however, have listed only 63 soldiers lost in action last month, which saw government troops step up an offensive against the rebel-held north after authorities pulled out of a truce with the Tigers.

The health minister did not give an estimate of rebel casualties, although the defence ministry has said 871 Tigers were killed in February.

Since the start of the year, the ministry has claimed security forces have killed at least 1,837 rebels while 107 government soldiers have been slain in the conflict.

No independent confirmation of the figures has been available