Scores dead in Sri Lanka fighting: military

September 27, 2008 (AFP) – At least 52 Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in heavy fighting between troops and the guerrillas just outside their northern capital in Sri Lanka, the defence ministry said on Saturday.

Sri Lankan troops are trying to capture the northern town of Kilinochchi, where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) maintain their own administration, banks, police and courts and meet visiting diplomats.

Fighting on the outskirts of the town on Friday killed 52 LTTE fighters while six soldiers were wounded, the ministry said.

The Sri Lankan government, which pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire in January, wants to capture Kilinochchi, in what would deal a major military and psychological blow to the rebels.

Army chief Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka said Thursday his men had advanced to within four kilometres (2.5 miles) of the town, and would launch a fresh offensive next week. On Friday, Sri Lanka’s former colonial ruler, Britain, voiced deep concern about the increasing violence.