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Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 10:08 GMT
Sri Lanka army claims more gains
Tamil Tiger bodies at Anuradhapura hospital
It is rare for the military to produce evidence of the fighting
The Sri Lankan military says it has killed some 40 Tamil Tiger rebels in recent days in fighting that has also left four soldiers dead.

The figures cannot be verified as the government does not allow journalists or independent observers into the battle zones.

The government says it is making gains against the Tigers in the fighting in the north of the island.

Last year they drove the Tigers from their strongholds in the east.

Evidence

"Troops killed 38 terrorists," a military spokesman told the Reuters news agency. The army says the fighting has been concentrated along front lines in the areas of Vavuniya, Jaffna, Polonnaruwa and Mannar.

It is rare for the military to produce evidence of the results of the fighting. However, in one recent case last month, hospital officials in the northern town of Anuradhapura handed over the bodies of what the army said were 14 Tamil Tigers to the Red Cross.

Correspondents say that both sides in the conflict tend to exaggerate the number of enemy combatants killed while downplaying the number of dead or injured on their own side.

In January the government pulled out of a formal commitment to a 2002 ceasefire with the Tamil Tigers, arguing the rebels had used it to re-group and re-arm.

Since then, fighting has intensified on the frontlines that surround Tiger-held territory in the north.

Sri Lanka's army commander Lt-Gen Sarath Fonseka has said that he aims to defeat the rebels by the end of 2008.

Recriminations

On Thursday a Tamil member of the Sri Lankan parliament was killed in an explosion in the north of the country.

The MP, K Sivanesan, and his driver died when a roadside bomb blew up near their car. Tamil rebels blamed government forces for the death.

They say that the army planted the bomb, but it has denied the allegation.

A military spokesman told the BBC the Tigers should take responsibility as the incident happened inside the rebel-held territory.



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