Sri Lanka Tigers suffer heavy casualties: ministry

October 1, 2008 (AFP) – Around 30 Tamil Tiger rebels were killed and 36 wounded in the latest ground and air attacks by government forces against their north Sri Lankan stronghold, the island’s defence ministry said Wednesday. Three soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in the fighting on Tuesday, the ministry said.

The military says the rebels have lost 7,086 since January, when Colombo pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire.

The defence ministry has acknowledged the loss of 694 soldiers over the same period.

Having wrested the east from the Tigers in July 2007, the military says troops are four kilometres (2.5 miles) from Kilinochchi town, the administrative centre of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse was also quoted as saying Wednesday “it’s now a matter of time” before the north is captured.

“It is the beginning of the end of LTTE terrorists,” Rajapakse told state media.

Tens of thousands have died on both sides in one of Asia’s longest running conflicts.