Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
'Scores dead' in Sri Lanka fighting
The fighting is the first serious clash in a month
By Susannah Price in Colombo
The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence says the army has killed more than 100 Tamil Tiger separatists during a confrontation in the north of the island.
It says Sri Lankan troops were supported by artillery and helicopter gunships during heavy fighting and that 19 soldiers were killed. Sources in the north say that figure is higher.
The army retaliated and the Defence Ministry says the army has recovered the bodies of 55 separatist fighters.
It says it is making arrangements to hand them back to the Tigers through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
There appears to be no advance on either side following the fighting.
The only crossing-point between the government-controlled areas and the Tiger-administered zone has been effectively closed.
The Tigers, for their part, have only allowed people to cross into the government area three times in the past two months.
In a separate clash, the navy said its gunboats had destroyed three Tiger boats off the east coast at Kokilai and estimated up to 30 Tamil Tigers had been killed.
There is no independent confirmation of any of these reports. The last upsurge in fighting a month ago resulted in the army admitting to several casualties during its one-day offensive against the Tigers in the northern Mannar District.
This time the Defence Ministry said its troops were in the process of pursuit and consolidation.