Sri Lanka says 39 Tamil Tigers killed in fresh fighting

Feb 8, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops smashed bunkers of Tamil Tiger rebels in the island’s embattled north and kept up attacks elsewhere leaving 39 guerrillas dead, the island’s defence ministry said Friday. In the clashes along the front lines in Vavuniya district, security forces killed 22 guerrillas while destroying three of their bunkers on Thursday, the ministry said in a statement.

It said another 17 rebels were killed in fresh fighting since Thursday in the northern peninsula of Jaffna, north-eastern Trincomalee and the north-western mannar districts.

There were no casualties reported among security forces.

There was no immediate word from the LTTE.

The government claims cannot be independently verified since journalists and human rights groups are not allowed to go to frontline areas or rebel-held territory.

According to the defence ministry, the rebels have lost at least 989 fighters since the beginning of the year, compared with just 42 government soldiers killed. The Sri Lankan government last month officially pulled out of a defunct truce with the rebels, who have fought for more than three decades for an independent ethnic homeland in the Sinhalese-majority island.