Sri Lanka says 44 combatants killed in latest fighting

October 20, 2008 (AFP) – At least 33 Sri Lankan government soldiers and 11 Tamil Tiger rebels have been killed in the latest heavy fighting in the north of the island, the defence ministry said Monday. Government forces also suffered at least 48 soldiers wounded and another three soldiers missing in the latest battles with Tamil Tiger guerrillas since Saturday south of the rebel political capital of Kilinochchi.

The ministry said security forces recovered the bodies of 11 members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) following the weekend clashes.

Government forces have taken more territory from Tamil rebels after intense weekend battles in the north of the island, the defence ministry said earlier on Monday.

Heavy fighting raged in the Wanni region, where security forces are trying to capture the rebel base of Kilinochchi, still about 10 to 15 kilometres (six to nine miles) away from the army’s main frontline, the military said.

“Troops have captured approximately half a square kilometre of land area from the LTTE,” the defence ministry said.

There was no immediate comment from the rebel LTTE, but the pro-rebel website said they allowed troops to advance