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Last Updated: Monday, 28 January 2008, 07:25 GMT
'Scores die' in Sri Lanka clashes
Sri Lankan soldiers stand on a road as vehicles preparing to leave for rebel-controlled areas queue in Vavuniya in the north
The government says it can defeat the rebels in the battlefield
Fighting between the Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tiger rebels has killed at least 55 in the north of the country over the weekend, the army says.

The dead included at least 13 rebels and two soldiers, the military said. The fighting took place in some northern districts.

This month the government formally pulled out of a truce, which rising violence had already effectively ended.

The ceasefire was signed between the two sides in 2002.

The fighting reportedly happened in the northern districts of Vavuniya and Polonnaruwa and the north-western district of Mannar.

The pro-rebel TamilNet said that at least 15 Sri Lankan soldiers had been killed and more than 30 soldiers wounded in Mannar on Sunday evening.

The military has denied the rebel claims and said no soldier has been killed or injured in Mannar on Sunday, reports say.

There is no independent confirmation of the casualties.

Spike in violence

Hostilities have heightened between Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Recently Sri Lanka said its air force had bombed a base used by Tigers leader Velupillai Prabhakaran - but the rebels said the air raid targeted civilians.

Last week 16 bodies were found at a remote jungle location in government-controlled territory in Anuradhapura district.

A military spokesman said the victims had been hacked to death, and blamed Tamil Tiger rebels.

And earlier this month, at least 26 people were killed and more than 60 hurt in a bomb attack in the town of Buttala, 240km (150 miles) south-east of the capital, Colombo.

The army blamed Tamil Tiger rebels for the attacks, which came after the government formally ended a ceasefire.

Fighting had been going on in the north and east of the island for about two years, despite the truce.

The Tigers control a swathe of territory in the north of the island and are fighting for an independent state.

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