Sri Lanka navy says killed 80 rebels in sea battle

Chandi Dharmaratne

Sept 2, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s navy killed at least 80 Tamil Tiger guerrillas after a six-hour battle with a flotilla of rebel boats off the island’s northern waters Saturday, the defence ministry said. The boats of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were trying to attack the northern port of Kankesanthurai at the northern edge of the Jaffna peninsula, the ministry said.

“Twelve Sea Tiger craft including five suicide boats were destroyed killing over 80 Tiger terrorists and injuring many others on board,” the ministry said in a statement. “The remaining craft left the area.”

It was not possible to get independent verification of the casualty figures.

Both sides in the long-running conflict are regularly accused of exaggerating the losses of their opponents.

The latest violence broke a lull in fighting across Sri Lanka’s embattled northern and eastern regions since last weekend. More than 1,500 people have been killed in clashes in an upsurge of violence since December despite a Norwegian-brokered truce reached in 2002.