Sri Lanka troops take key village, kill 44 Tigers: military

April 3, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan security forces captured a key village from Tamil Tiger rebels on Friday after heavy fighting that left at least 44 guerrillas dead, a military spokesman said. At the height of their power in the mid-1990s, the Tigers controlled more than a third of the total land mass of Sri Lanka as they pushed for an independent Tamil homeland. Troops moved into Anandapuram, which the rebels had been using as a logistics base, after intense clashes on Thursday, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had been putting up stiff resistance to prevent the army taking the village, the spokesman said.

He said two senior LTTE leaders were among 44 rebels killed in Thursday’s fighting.

The Tiger guerrillas are battling to hold back a military assault that has pushed them into a 20 square kilometre (eight square mile) patch of land in the northeast of the island.

The United Nations and foreign aid organisations say as many as 150,000 civilians may be trapped in the combat zone, although the Sri Lankan government insists the figure is less than half that.