Sri Lanka Tiger key front line taken: defence ministry

Dec 22, 2007 (AFP) – Government forces captured a key defence line of Tamil Tiger guerrillas in northern Sri Lanka Saturday in fighting that killed six rebels and one soldier, the defence ministry said. Norwegian-brokered 2002 truce began to unravel in December 2005.

Security forces smashed five bunkers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during heavy rains in the confrontation in which six troops were wounded, the ministry said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from the Tigers.

The claim of more rebel casualties brings the number of Tamil fighters killed since December 1 to at least 371, according to the defence ministry. This compares to a tiny handful of government troops reported dead.

Both sides are known for making sharply differing claims about casualties suffered by the other, and the independent verification of casualty claims is rarely possible with the press barred from front line and rebel-held areas.

Tens of thousands of people have died on both sides since the LTTE launched its armed struggle for a Tamil homeland in the majority Sinhalese nation in 1972. A