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Wednesday, May 21, 2008
International

Heavy fighting rages thru' Lanka's north

15 killed in clashes

At least 12 Tamil Tiger rebels and three government soldiers have died in renewed clashes in northern Sri Lanka, the military said yesterday.

The fighting, which took place late Monday, was centered around the regions of Weli Oya, Janakapura, Andankulama and Kokkuthuduwal, military spokesman brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.

Three policemen were also wounded when a grenade was thrown inside a police post in the northern district of Vavuniya on Tuesday, the military said, blaming the attack on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Unidentified gunmen shot dead a paramilitary policeman while he was on duty in the southern town of Buttala late Monday, the defence ministry said.

It also accused the LTTE of killing an ethnic Tamil civilian while he ate inside a cafe in the northern town of Vavuniya on Monday night.

The latest casualty figures bring to 3,786 the number of rebels the government says it has killed since the start of the year, while 289 soldiers have died in combat during that time.

The figures cannot be independently verified as the government bars media, aid workers and rights groups from visiting frontline areas.

Violence has escalated since Colombo pulled out of a six-year truce with the LTTE, which is fighting for a separate Tamil state, in January.

Tens of thousands have died on both sides in more than three decades of fighting.

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