Sri Lankan wild life park scene of fresh fighting

Oct 16, 2007 (AFP) – Tamil Tiger rebels have overrun a military post inside Sri Lanka’s most popular wildlife sanctuary, officials said Tuesday amid a surge in fighting ahead of the economically crucial tourist season. The defence ministry said the latest round of fighting over a 24-hour period — both in the wildlife park in the southeast and in separate clashes in the island’s north — had left 38 rebel fighters and government soldiers dead.

Military officials said Tiger guerrillas killed seven soldiers in an attack inside Yala National Park, an area known for its leopards, elephants and migratory birds.

Six of the soldiers died in an overnight attack on an army outpost, and the seventh trooper was killed and three more wounded in a mine attack as additional troops poured into the area, officials said.

“A pocket of isolated terrorists had attempted to overrun the army outpost,” the defence ministry said in a statement. “Troops supported by reinforcements successfully managed to chase the terrorists away.”

The clashes came a day before the authorities were due to open the Yala park after its annual six-week shutdown for the high tourist season, which runs till mid-January.

Western diplomats sa