March 13, 2007 (AFP) – Eight suspected Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in strikes by Sri Lanka warplanes as part of a military offensive in the eastern Batticaloa district, the defence ministry said Tuesday. More than 4,000 people have been killed amid an upsurge in fighting since December 2005, despite the two sides agreeing to a Norwegian-brokered truce to halt the conflict in February 2002. “An east LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) intelligence leader identified as Irakkian and a training instructor were among the dead,” the ministry said of the air strikes on Monday.
Security forces last week began a new drive to advance deep into a Tiger stronghold known as the Thoppigala jungle, which stretches from the Batticaloa district to neighbouring Ampara district in the northeast of the island.
The airforce, using Israeli-built Kfir and Russian-made supersonic MIG jet fighters, conducted air sorties against suspected rebel targets in the Thoppigala jungle, the ministry said, adding that more than a dozen LTTE soldiers were injured.
There was no immediate comment from the LTTE, who have been fighting for a separate state for minority Tamils since 1972.
Elsewhere, in the northern provinc