Sri Lanka unrest kills 18: military

September 28, 2008 (AFP) – Clashes between Sri Lankan soldiers and rebels left 17 dead in the country’s war-ravaged north, while a suicide attack on Sunday killed one civilian, the defence ministry said.

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Nine people were also injured in the suicide blast targeting police officers in the town of Vavuniya, the ministry said, blaming the attack on Tamil Tiger rebels. Four police and three soldiers were among the wounded, it said.

Elsewhere in the north, troops killed 12 rebels on Saturday, while five soldiers also died in clashes, the ministry said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) made no comment on the fighting.

Sri Lankan troops are close to capturing the rebels’ political capital of Kilinochchi and are now within four kilometres (2.5 miles) of the town, army chief Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka said last week.

The United Nations on Sunday said it would begin sending food convoys to Kilinochchi and Mullaittivu, after Sri Lanka ordered aid workers out of the region in the face of the heavy fighting.

Mohamed Saleheen, head