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Sri Lanka: 12 rebels killed in fighting
May 25, 2007 21:39 IST
Sri Lankan security forces on Friday shot dead 12 Tamil Tigers in separate battles in the north of the island, a day after the rebels attacked an Army bus in the capital and a key naval base in Jaffna.
Troops killed the 12 members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in two separate clashes in Vavuniya district, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.
The claim came a day after the Tiger rebels blew up an army bus in Colombo, killing one soldier, and overran a naval base where they claimed 35 sailors died.
The Defence Ministry disputed LTTE claims and said the Navy lost only four sailors while four were wounded. The Navy said it had killed 18 rebels, including seven top-rung members.
Both sides are known to inflate casualty figures on the other.
Meanwhile, a state-run daily on Friday said that LTTE's attack on the strategic naval base on Thursday was part of an attempt to re-capture their former bastion on the Jaffna peninsula.
'The incident in Delft in the wee hours of Thursday clearly indicates that the LTTE has not given up their idea of capturing Jaffna, which is considered the nerve centre of their activities,' the Daily News said.
The rebels ran Jaffna as a de facto separate state for five years before security forces captured it in 1995. Numerous small islands around Jaffna are seen as potential launch pads for any rebel offensive against the Tamil-majority peninsula.
The newspaper also said that Thursday's attack on the naval base -- as well as the bombing of an army bus in Colombo -- had ended a month-long lull in rebel attacks.
'The events unfolded on Thursday as security forces and also the public were on alert about a pending air attack by the LTTE targeting a security or economic nerve centre on Colombo or the north or east,' the daily said.
At least one soldier was killed and six others wounded in the bus bombing.The Tigers, who have been fighting for a separate state since 1972, had vowed on Sunday that they would never return to peace talks unless the government halted a military campaign against them.