Sun, Jul 22, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Sri Lankan soldiers kill five suspected Tamil Tiger rebels

AP , COLOMBO

Sri Lanka's military said yesterday it killed five suspected Tamil Tiger rebels who were trying to plant mines near a defense line in the country's north.

Soldiers observed the group on Friday in Eluthumadduval village on the northern Jaffna Peninsula and shot at them, an official at the Media Center for National Security said.

The soldiers confirmed killing five rebels and recovered 12 anti-personnel mines during a subsequent search, the official said on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

There was no immediate comment from the rebels.

The incident came after a pre-dawn attack on Friday by rebels on a military post in northern Mannar District, sparking a battle that killed three soldiers and nine insurgents, the military said.

Rebel military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan said, however, that they killed 10 soldiers and lost four of their fighters in the battle.

The toll could not be reconciled because both sides habitually inflate each other's casualty figures and lower their own.

Violence in the past 20 months has killed more than 5,000 fighters and civilians, rendering a ceasefire brokered by Norway in 2002 meaningless.

Neither side has withdrawn from the agreement because such a move could prompt international condemnation.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in more than two decades of war.

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