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56 LTTE men, 10 soldiers killed in Lanka

T V Sriram in Colombo | December 22, 2008 17:23 IST
Last Updated: December 22, 2008 21:16 IST

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At least 56 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam cadre and ten soldiers were killed in clashes between the Sri Lankan Army and the Tamil Tigers in rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi even as Lankan fighter jets sank an LTTE [Images] vessel and bombed rebel targets.

"56 LTTE rebels were killed and 87 Tigers injured during the army offensive against the rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi," Army spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said.

Ten soldiers also lost their lives and another 40 injured in the clashes, he said.

"The Sri Lankan jets engaged and destroyed the LTTE boat used by the naval wing of the Tamil Tigers of the country's Mullaittivu coast," Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said.

He said the fighters also pounded Tiger defences in and around the two of the last rebel-held cities. The heavy air strikes came after reports of intense week-long battle between the security forces and Tigers which according to reports has left hundreds dead.

The sorties were made in support of the advancing 57 Division troops, he said.

Sri Lankan armed forces offensive to capture the de-facto political capital of LTTE, Kilinochchi, has been going on for over two months. But heavy rains and the stiff resistance by the Tigers has bogged down government forces on the outskirts of the city.

A Defence ministry spokesman reported several confrontations with Tiger groups in an around Nivil on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, army snipers deployed in 582 Brigade took three targets in Nivil, the military added.

Army troops attached to 582 Brigade have extended their defences destroying LTTE strong points observed in the same area, the defence ministry said.

Electronic Warfare sources confirmed that the LTTE received heavy damages in intense fighting reported in the area. The troops also sustained minor damages, they said.

Meanwhile, troops of same formation attacked at LTTE bunker line on Sunday morning, the military said.

At Mullaittivu, Troops of 59 Division heading towards the other LTTE stronghold, had a series of clashes with the LTTE militants in Kumulamunai.

Two military formations, 591 and 593 Brigades, actively engaged in consolidating operations in newly gained areas confronted with groups of rebels in Kumulamunai area, military sources said.

Troops have found a body of an LTTE fighter along with two hand grenades during a search operation conducted following the confrontation, they said.

At Muhamalai in Jaffna, troops deployed in northern battlefront further strengthened their defence line conducting consolidating operation on Sunday.

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