Sri Lankan clashes kill 27

Dec 1, 2007 (AFP) – At least 27 people were killed in fresh fighting in Sri Lanka’s embattled northeast, the military said on Saturday, marking the latest violence in the long-running ethnic conflict. At least 11 Tamil Tiger rebels were killed and 49 injured in heavy clashes across northern defence lines in Mannar early on Saturday, the defence ministry said in a statement.

“Pre-emptive strikes are continuing,” said the ministry, putting government losses at three soldiers killed and 10 injured.

Elsewhere, 13 rebels were killed overnight in separate fighting near the guerrillas’ stronghold in the north of the island, the military said, adding that it destroyed a rebel bunker but suffered no casualties.

There was no comment on the reported rebel casualties from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who have been fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the island’s north and east since 1972.

But the pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website said Sri Lankan airforce fighter jets dropped “several bombs” late on Friday around guerrilla-controlled areas in the northern peninsula of Jaffna.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the separatist conflict, one of Asia’s longe