Sri Lanka troops expand defence lines: military

December 27, 2008 (AFP) – Government forces consolidated their positions in northern Sri Lanka on Saturday, a day after heavy fighting with Tamil Tiger rebels, the military said. In January the Sri Lankan government pulled out of a 2002 Norwegian-brokered truce with the rebels, who have been fighting since 1972 for a state for ethnic minority Tamils separate from the majority Sinhalese community. “Following confrontations that lasted from dawn to dusk with terrorists, troops expanded their defence line south of Adampan,” the military said referring to a town west of Kilinochchi, the political capital of Tiger rebels.

The army had wrested control of the town of Mulliyawalai in the neighbouring district of Mullaittivu on Friday.

There was no immediate comment from the Tigers, but the pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website reported that the military had shelled the main hospital in Kilinochchi.

The shells landed in the hospital compound on Thursday, damaging three hospital buildings “and narrowly missing several hospital staff,” the Tamilnet said.

The Tiger rebels are defending their besieged political capital and resisting the Sri Lankan military’s biggest offensiv