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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 04:46 GMT 05:46 UK
'Casualties' in Sri Lanka clashes
Sri Lankan troops
Troops and rebels were engaged in heavy fighting
Clashes between troops and Tamil rebels have continued in northern Sri Lanka after fighting at the weekend which the two sides said claimed dozens of lives.

The rebels say they killed at least 30 soldiers in the north, while the army said it had killed more than 50 rebels.

Neither claim could be independently verified. Meanwhile, the Red Cross has urged the authorities to investigate the killing of two of its staff.

Despite a truce on paper, Sri Lanka has been sliding back towards civil war.

More than 4,000 people have been killed in violence in the past 15 months.

Envoy due

A rebel spokesman said they taken government-held positions between Vavuniya and Mannar over the weekend, killing at least 30 soldiers and capturing military vehicles and long-range weapons.

The Sri Lankan government said it had repulsed a drive by the rebels and killed more than 50 of them.

The fighting came ahead of the arrival in the region on Tuesday of Japan's special peace envoy, Yasushi Akashi.

Earlier, two ethnic Tamil Red Cross volunteers were abducted and killed by gunmen claiming to be police. Their bodies were found in the central town of Ratnapura.


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