Sri Lanka claims rebel base as both sides count heavy losses

COLOMBO, Jan 17, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tigers counted heavy losses Wednesday after a day of intense fighting, as police commandos reported capturing another rebel base. Casualty tolls varied wildly from a maximum of 85 to a minimum of 16 combatants dead on both sides during Tuesday’s battles.

The long-range artillery exchanges subsided in the eastern district of Batticaloa on Wednesday, as police Special Task Force (STF) commandos took control of a new guerrilla location in the neighbouring Ampara district.

“Another LTTE satellite base in Kanchikudichchiaru was captured on Tuesday by the STF,” the defence ministry said.

“A food store was recovered with 22 bags of rice, 780 packets of instant coconut milk, 22 packets of flour, 175 milk powder packets and other essential items of food,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

An STF officer was injured during the operation on Tuesday and admitted to hospital, the statement said, adding the commandos were keeping up an offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE denied the commandos had captured a base in Ampara and said the locations taken by the security forces were