September 24, 2007 / 5:39 AM / 12 years ago

S.Lanka: Clashes kill over 20 rebels, 1 soldier

Sri Lankan army soldiers patrol the scene of a roadside bomb explosion in Trincomalee, about 257 km (160 miles) east of Colombo, September 22, 2007. REUTERS/Stringer

COLOMBO (Reuters) - More than 20 Tamil Tiger rebels and one soldier were killed in clashes in northern Sri Lanka on Monday, the military said, the latest in a rash of confrontations amid renewed civil war.

The military said intercepted radio communications revealed about 20 Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in the Jaffna clash, up from an initial estimate of three. However troops had recovered only two bodies.

“Monitoring (of communications) confirmed about 20 terrorists were killed,” said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara. “They were (attacking) the forward defense line there in Kilali. We went ahead and attacked. One soldier was killed and five were wounded.”

The military said three rebels were killed in a separate clash in the northwestern district of Mannar, where one soldier was also wounded.

The Tigers, who say they are fighting for an independent state for minority ethnic Tamils in the north and east, were not immediately available for comment.

There was no independent confirmation of how many people were killed or what had happened. Military analysts say both sides tend to exaggerate enemy losses and play down their own.

Around 5,000 people have been killed in fighting between the military and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrillas since early 2006. In all, nearly 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced since the war erupted in 1983.

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