Sri Lankan Civil war: 20 Tamil Tiger rebels killed

Twenty Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in battles in Sri Lankan volatile north.

The fighting throughout the day Sunday was part of worsening violence along the front lines surrounding the Tamil Tigers' de facto state in parts of Sri Lanka's north, the AP reports.

Much of the fighting took place in the Adampan section of Mannar, southwest of rebel-held territory, said Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara, the military spokesman. In one battle, about 2:25 p.m., five rebels were killed; a second battle there nearly four hours later killed another five Tamil Tiger fighters, the military said.

"In Adampan, almost every day there are confrontations, especially west of Adampan where we have taken over a bunker line," he said, adding that the rebels were trying to retake their lost positions.

In separate violence, troops destroyed a bunker in Muhamalai on the northern edge of rebel territory Sunday evening, killing three separatist fighters, he said. Another seven Tamil Tigers were killed when troops crossed the front lines at Vavuniya, further south, and attacked rebel bunkers, a common military tactic in recent weeks, he said.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan said he had no specific details on the fighting, but said the government often lied about rebel casualties.

Each side routinely exaggerates the other's casualties and plays down its own. Independent accounts of clashes are usually unobtainable because journalists are barred from the area.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils after a history of discrimination by governments controlled by the majority Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

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