COLOMBO, April 3, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops killed at least 12 Tamil Tiger rebels in clashes in the northwestern district of Mannar, the defence ministry said Tuesday. More than 4,000 people have been killed in the latest upsurge of fighting that began in December 2005 despite a truce arranged in 2002. The clashes erupted near the Giant’s Tank area late on Sunday, it said in a statement issued after rebels were blamed for the bombing of a bus on Monday which killed 16 people.
“Intercepted LTTE communication confirmed their total losses as 12,” the ministry said in a statement. “No harm was reported to the security forces. A search operation is in progress in the area.”
Police said an investigation was underway over Monday’s bus bombing.
Passengers were getting off the bus to be checked by troops manning a road block when the blast occurred just outside the town of Ampara, 350 kilometres (220 miles) east of Colombo.
Tiger rebels denied involvement in the bombing.
The Tamil rebels have waged a 35-year campaign for independence that has claimed more than 60,000 lives.