Troops beat back fresh attack on Jaffna forward defences

Aug 17, 2006 (AFP) – Troops killed over 50 Tamil rebels Thursday when the guerrillas staged a fresh attack on Sri Lanka’s Jaffna peninsula, officials said, a day after the president said the door was still open for peace talks.

-updated-

Troops beat back the attempt by the rebels to overrun their defences and killed the guerrillas in fierce close-quarter fighting in the early hours on the northern peninsula, the defence ministry and military officials said.

President Mahinda Rajapakse said Wednesday the door remained open for peace talks with the Tamil Tigers but stressed soldiers would take defensive action if necessary.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched the seaborne attack on army bunkers at Kilali on the peninsula’s southwestern edge, defence ministry spokesman Upali Rajapakse said.

“We have successfully repulsed the attack,” Rajapakse said.

“We have seen at least 50 bodies of Tigers ahead of our defence line after the battle that lasted several hours.”

He gave no soldier casualty figures. But military officials who wished to remain unnamed said they had recovered 56 rebel bodies and at least six soldiers were killed and 60 wounded in the intense battle.

The g