Sri Lanka Tigers hit food ship; 150 dead in weekend fighting: military

March 9, 2009 (AFP) – The Sri Lankan military said Monday its troops have killed at least 150 Tamil Tigers in a weekend of fierce fighting inside the rebels’ shrinking fiefdom in the northeast of the island. Army spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said the Tigers, boxed into an area of less than 50 square kilometres (19 square miles), launched a series of attacks against advancing troops in the district of Mullaittivu.

The military said it had killed 100 rebels in clashes on Friday and Saturday, with an additional 50 bodies found on Monday.

“Security forces also lost a few soldiers… and a few (were) wounded,” he said, without giving precise figures for government casualties. He added that a large haul of ammunition was also found.

The Sri Lankan government bars most journalists and aid workers from the north of the island, meaning the claims cannot be confirmed.

On Sunday, the defence ministry announced that the fighting had reached the “final phase” of operations against Tiger rebels, who have been leading a campaign for a separate state since 1972.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week reiterated his call for a swift halt to the conflict to avoid further civilian casualties after t