16 LTTE rebels killed in northern Sri Lanka

By Xinhua

Colombo : Sixteen Tamil Tiger rebels were killed and four government soldiers were injured in two clashes between the army and the rebels in northern Sri Lanka, defence officials said Sunday.

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Defence officials said that eight Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels were killed and two soldiers were injured Saturday when the LTTE launched artillery fire on the army and soldiers retaliated in the northern district of Vavuniya between 04.00 p.m. and 06.00 p.m. local time (10.30 and 12.30 GMT).

Another eight LTTE rebels were killed when the army fired at a group of rebels who attempted to advance in forward defence line at Uilankulam in the northern district of Mannar around 11.00 a.m. (05.30 GMT), officials said.

Clashes between LTTE rebels and government troops have been happening frequently in northern Sri Lanka since mid-September.

Claiming discrimination at the hands of the Sinhala majority, the LTTE has been fighting the government since the mid-1980s to establish a separate homeland for the minority Tamils in the north and east.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in the new wave of violence sine the end of 2005, making the Norwegian brokered ceasefire agreement exist only on paper.