Sri Lanka troops push on with offensives against rebels

May 31, 2007 (AFP) – Government forces kept up two offensives against Tamil Tiger rebels in the island’s northern and eastern regions Thursday with casualties reported on both sides, officials said. More than 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict. Troops backed by artillery combed the jungles of Thoppigala in the district of Batticaloa, where security forces recovered weapons and explosives from a rebel hideout Thursday, the military said.

Officials said several soldiers were wounded in clashes Wednesday in the region.

The defence ministry said two members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were killed by security forces in the northern peninsula of Jaffna on Wednesday evening.

Government troops and Tamil rebels have been locked in combat following the breakdown of a 2002 Norwegian-arranged truce.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in the past 18 months.

There was no immediate comment from the Tamil Tigers, who have been fighting since 1972 for a separate state.