Sri Lanka fighting kills 24: defence ministry

July 9, 2008 (AFP) – At least 22 Tamil Tiger rebels and two government soldiers have died in the latest clashes in northern Sri Lanka, the island’s defence ministry said Wednesday. The fighting, which took place on Tuesday, was centred around the Weli Oya, Vavuniya and Mannar regions, the statement said.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) did not comment on Tuesday’s fighting.

But guerrillas said 50 civilians were killed in the rebel-held north in June, including seven who died in roadside mine attacks blamed on army commandos.

Casualty figures given by either side cannot be independently verified as the defence ministry bars journalists and rights groups from travelling to the frontlines.

The latest figures given by the ministry raises the number of rebels killed by government forces to 4,811 since January, while 432 soldiers have died in the same period.