Sri Lanka troops, Tigers trade fire after heavy fighting

December 17, 2008 (AFP) – There was sporadic fighting in northern Sri Lanka Wednesday, a day after troops and Tamil Tigers fought intense battles around the rebels’ stronghold that left hundreds dead and wounded. The defence ministry said security forces recovered five bodies of Tiger guerrillas Tuesday evening after fighting around the rebels’ political capital of Kilinochchi.

Security forces carried out simultaneous attacks against Tamil Tiger defences around Kilinochchi and on the Jaffna peninsula using ground troops and helicopter gunships, the defence ministry said.

In a rare statement announcing casualty figures, the ministry said that 25 troops were killed, with another 10 missing and 160 wounded, while an estimated 120 Tigers were killed and 250 wounded.

For their part, the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they had repulsed the multi-pronged offensive by government forces, killing 170 soldiers and wounding 420.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet website quoted Tiger official S. Puleedevan as saying that they had killed 130 soldiers outside Kilinochchi while another 40 soldiers were killed on the nearby Jaffna peninsula.

Puleedevan said they had captured the bodies of