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Lanka: Tiger factions clash; 3 killed
December 19, 2006 22:18 IST
At least three Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels were killed and several others wounded in a gun battle in northern Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, the guerrillas abducted 21 students and later freed them.
Members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam clashed with their breakaway Karuna faction in Vavuniya leaving three rebels dead, police said, adding that it looked like the Karuna members were killed by Tigers.
In the island's eastern Ampara district, the military said 23 students were seized and taken to a Tiger training camp on Monday night.
However, the LTTE said only 21 students and two teachers had been taken away and that all were freed on Tuesday morning.
'Ampara Special Military Commander, Col Ram, discovered that many of the youth in the batch were underage,' the LTTE said in a statement.
'He immediately ordered the release of the entire batch. All 23 people were immediately released and all are now back in their home,' it said.
The rebels said they initiated investigations into the LTTE officers involved in the recruitment.
'This immediate action to investigate follows new strictures issued to all recruiting officers to carefully avoid enlisting underage youths,' the Tigers said.