Sri Lanka
21 killed in fighting in northern Sri Lanka
Apr 11, 2007 - 7:45:03 PM

Colombo, April 11 - At least 20 rebels and a government soldier were killed in fighting in northern Sri Lanka Wednesday, a day after rebels attacked the forward defence lines of the security forces, closing down a key highway into rebel-controlled areas, a military spokesman said.

A statement from the Defence Ministry said that according to intercepted rebel radio communications, 20 cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - were killed in fighting in retaliatory attacks by troops in Mullikulam, Vavuniya, 240 km north of the capital.

The military said that only one soldier was killed and four were injured in the confrontation.

But Tamil rebels claim that they have recovered eight bodies of army personnel and they would hand them over to the International Committee for the Red Cross -.

LTTE spokesman Rasiha Illanthiriyan said only three of their cadres were killed and they had recovered ammunition including rocket propelled grenade launchers and light machine guns of the soldiers, forcing the military to halt an offensive operation in the area.

Rebels on Wednesday attacked the main checkpoint at the entrance to the rebel-controlled Wanni district and since then the main road to the area has been shut down. As a result, over 500 people were stranded in Vavuniya.

Fighting between government troops and rebels has intensified during the past 15 months and over 4,000 persons have been killed.

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