Heavy fighting in Sri Lanka leaves 82 dead, say combatants

June 3, 2007 (AFP) – Tiger rebels destroyed army bases in northern Sri Lanka leaving 82 combatants dead according to both sides Sunday as the island’s main aid donor, Japan, was set to launch a fresh peace bid. More than 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they launched attacks along a broad front in Vavuniya and Mannar districts.

They captured armoured vehicles and heavy weapons after destroying long-range guns belonging to the military.

They also said they destroyed four or five gun positions.

The Tigers said they killed at least 30 security personnel in a five-hour battle to capture several gun positions and military detachments.

The Tigers also released pictures of an armoured carrier and bases they captured.

The Defence Ministry said heavy fighting raged in the area, but claimed that the military had beaten back a guerrilla offensive by killing at least 52 Tiger cadres.

Neither sides’ claims can be verified but the guerrillas said they were planning to return the dead bodies of 16 government soldiers through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Tiger spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan said that the guerr