Sri Lanka’s Jaffna peninsula sees heavy fighting

Jan 30, 2008 (AFP) – Heavy fighting gripped Sri Lanka’s Jaffna peninsula Wednesday with both Tiger rebels and government forces claiming they had the upper hand after smashing each other’s fortifications. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they resisted a pre-dawn three-pronged assault in the area, one of several points from where government troops are trying to push into the rebels’ northern mini-state.

“A Sri Lankan attempt to attack the LTTE forward defence lines along Kilali, Muhamalai and Nagarkovil in Jaffna… has been thwarted by LTTE defenders,” rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan said in a statement.

The Tigers had captured rocket-propelled grenade launchers from retreating government forces, he said, but gave no details of casualties.

However, the military said troops smashed 35 rebel bunkers and recovered a large stock of ammunition. Security forces also deployed jets to bomb behind Tiger lines after heavy fighting in the peninsula.

“LTTE radio transmissions have revealed 10 cadres were killed in the confrontation. However, ground troops have reported that 25-30 terrorists were either killed or wounded,” the defence ministry said in a statement.