Fresh Sri Lanka fighting kills 12

July 20, 2007 (AFP) – Government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels were locked in heavy combat in northwest Sri Lanka on Friday, leaving at least 12 people killed on both sides, the defence ministry said. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched the pre-dawn attack on army defences in Mannar district, the ministry said in a statement.

Three government soldiers were killed and another four were wounded and put guerrillas losses at nine killed and 20 wounded, the ministry said.

There was no immediate word from the Tigers.

The latest attack came a day after the government on Thursday celebrated the capture last week of the last bastion of the LTTE in the east of the island. The Tigers have been fighting for a separate state for minority Tamils for 35 years — a conflict that has claimed over 60,000 lives.