Weekend battles kill 51 in Sri Lanka: defence ministry

Feb 18, 2008 (AFP) – Heavy fighting raged in northern Sri Lanka on Monday, the defence ministry said, reporting that 49 Tamil Tiger rebels and two soldiers were killed in weekend battles. Fresh clashes erupted along the frontlines in the north of the country on Monday, the ministry said, after a surge of violence on Saturday.

“Forty nine LTTE terrorists were killed while 20 others were injured during the (weekend) clashes,” the ministry said. “Two army soldiers made their supreme sacrifice while 16 others received injuries.”

Government forces backed by war planes and artillery have been pounding the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for weeks, but appear to have made little progress in their effort to advance into rebel-held territory.

There was no immediate comment from the Tigers, whose fight for independence has left tens of thousands dead over three decades.

According to defence ministry figures, at least 1,297 rebels have been killed by security forces so far this year. The military has put its own losses during the same period at 72 soldiers and police killed. Casualty figures provided by both sides differ wildly and cannot be independently verified. Journal