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Sri Lanka: Many Dead In Fresh Weekend Violence

Fresh Sri Lanka violence leaves dozens dead over weekend

Sri Lanka, Jul 14, 2008: Sri Lankan officials said Monday (July 14) that at least 63 people, mostly Tamil Tiger rebels, have been killed in the latest clashes in the country's restive north.

"Troops killed 62 LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] terrorists in fighting since Friday (July 11) and one soldier also died," Reuters quoted a spokesperson at the Media Center for National Security as saying.

The military said that troops advanced into rebel-held territory in the weekend fighting and captured two areas in the northern district of Vavuniya on Friday. Additionally, the air force said that fighter jets bombed rebel bunkers and a rebel equipment storage area on Saturday (July 11) in the north.

"The air strikes hit the targets," Reuters quoted air force spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara as saying. According to Reuters, the LTTE said in a statement that a female student was injured by the bombing and admitted to the hospital.

The LTTE also said that government artillery fire damaged a school, buildings and civilian houses, but did not comment on the clashes. It is not possible to independently verify battles on the ground as journalists are barred from entering conflict zones.

Over 70,000 have been killed since the LTTE began fighting for an independent homeland in Sri Lanka's east and north in 1983, claiming years of discrimination from the majority Sinhalese. Fighting has increased since the government formally withdrew from a 2002 ceasefire with the LTTE.

ENDS

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