Sri Lanka says 19 killed in attacks

July 7, 2007 (AFP) – Fifteen Tamil Tiger rebels were shot dead as they fled from troops on tractors, the Sri Lankan government said on Saturday, while four people were killed elsewhere in the embattled island. More than 60,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in 1972. The number of dead in violence on Friday was the biggest one-day toll in weeks in the tropical nation where the rebels are fighting for an independent homeland for minority ethnic Tamils.

Soldiers intercepted a group of Tamil Tigers, killing 15, as they fled the jungle area of Thoppigala in the eastern district of Batticaloa, where fighting had been taking place between troops and rebels, a defence ministry statement said.

“The terrorists were fleeing in two tractors when they were attacked by army commandos,” the military said.

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels shot dead a Tamil man in the northern district of Jaffna on Friday for allegedly having close links with the military, the ministry said.

Two Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in northern Vavuniya district on Friday during clashes with government troops, the military said.

Security forces also shot dead a rebel late on Friday after spying guerrilla movem