Sri Lankan military says 29 killed in fresh fighting

July 24, 2008 (AFP) – At least 25 Tamil Tiger rebels and four soldiers have been killed in fighting and air strikes across Sri Lanka’s northern region, the defence ministry said Thursday. The ministry said the clashes between troops and members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) happened Wednesday and brought the number of guerrillas killed since January to 5,176.

The four troop deaths brought the toll since January to 454, according to the ministry tally.

Casualty claims cannot be independently verified as the ministry bars reporters from visiting the conflict-affected areas.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan warplanes Thursday carried out air strikes against a suspected rebel training centre in the guerrilla-controlled Mullaittivu area, the airforce said.

Air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said pilots confirmed they had hit the camp.

Separatist Tamil Tigers, fighting for a homeland for minority Tamils since 1972, had no comment on casualties.

The LTTE on Tuesday offered a unilateral 10-day ceasefire ahead of a meeting of South Asian leaders in Colombo starting July 26.

The government has brushed off the offer.