Sri Lanka violence claims 21: govt

September 15, 2008 (AFP) – Fresh fighting broke out across Sri Lanka’s tense north, leaving 20 Tamil Tiger rebels and one soldier dead, the defence ministry said Monday.

The ministry said 22 rebels and 14 troops were wounded in Sunday’s fighting in Weli Oya, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) did not comment on military casualty claims.

Sunday’s fighting raised the number of rebels killed by troops since January to 6,542, while 635 soldiers have lost their lives during the same period, according to a ministry toll.

Troops are focused on dismantling the rebels’ northern stronghold after ejecting the guerrillas from the east in July 2007. Tens of thousands of people have died on both sides since the LTTE began fighting for a separate homeland for minority Tamils in 1972.