Dozens dead in latest Sri Lanka fighting

COLOMBO, October 14, 2008 (AFP) – The Sri Lankan army said Tuesday it has killed 38 Tamil Tiger rebels involved in a fierce counter-attack in the island’s war-torn north.

The defence ministry said its troops fought pitched battles and beat back rebel assaults along several fronts in the north on Monday. It said three government soldiers died in the fighting.

There was no comment from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are battling a government push to dismantle their northern mini-state.

Having wrestled the east from the Tigers in July 2007, Sri Lanka now says it is just two kilometres (1.2 miles) from Kilinochchi, the LTTE’s administrative hub. Since pulling out of a Norwegian-backed truce in January, the defence ministry has reported it has killed 7,516 rebels against the loss of 742 soldiers. The figures cannot be independently verified.