11 LTTE guerrillas killed in Sri Lanka

By Xinhua

Colombo : At least 11 Tamil Tiger guerrillas were killed when clashes erupted in northern Sri Lanka between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and government troops, officials said Saturday.

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The clashes occurred Friday in Omanthai West in Vavuniya district. Nine soldiers were injured, officials said, adding that T-56 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades belonging to the rebels were captured by the troops.

Meanwhile, the rebels claim they have a body of a soldier killed in clashes in the rebel forward defence line at Wanni in the north. According to them, the troops carried out an assault on the rebels Friday morning.

The soldier’s body is to be handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross, rebel sources said.

Elsewhere in the north, a sailor suffered a foot injury after the Tigers exploded a bomb fixed to a bicycle at around 4.30 p.m. (1100 GMT). A Navy foot patrol was returning to base when they came under attack, officials said.

The clashes in the island’s separatist conflict have now mainly shifted to the north, the main base of the LTTE.

Government troops in mid-July claimed that the entire Eastern Province was under their control. Nearly 70,000 people have died in the conflict since the mid-1980s.

The LTTE has been fighting for a separate homeland for the Tamils in the north and east claiming discrimination at the hands of the Sinhalese majority.