Sri Lanka says 29 killed in fighting

April 19, 2008 (AFP) – At least 28 Tamil Tiger rebels and one soldier have been killed in artillery duels across Sri Lanka’s war-ravaged north, the defence ministry said on Saturday. Security forces killed 25 members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Mannar district while three others were killed in nearby Weli Oya district on Friday, the ministry said.

It said one soldier was killed in clashes in Weli Oya.

There was no immediate word from the LTTE who have been locked in combat since 1972 to carve out an independent state for minority Tamils in the island’s north and east.

Security forces have killed at least 2,903 rebels since the start of January while 175 government soldiers have died in action during the same period, according to defence ministry figures.

Casualty figures cannot be verified independently as Colombo bars journalists and aid workers from travelling to embattled areas. Both sides are known to offer sharply varying casualty figures. .