Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Monday, 11 August 2008 16:02 UK

Fierce clashes in north Sri Lanka

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Colombo

Sri Lankan soldiers patrol in Mannar, about 220 kilometers (137 miles) north of the capital Colombo 1 July
Fighting has intensified since the start of the year

Sri Lankan troops have killed 115 Tamil Tiger rebels in fighting since Friday, the military says.

Seven soldiers also died, according to a spokesman, as government forces continued to advance into territory held by the rebels in the north.

There is no word from the rebels on the claims, which cannot be independently verified as media access is barred.

The United Nations says as many as 70,000 people have fled their homes in the area since the start of June.

Thousands are sleeping rough in the open.

Air raid

Government forces say they are now pushing quickly into territory controlled by the Tamil Tigers in the north of the island.

The military's spokesman, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, said 11 rebels as well as one soldier were killed in fighting in Kilinochchi district on Sunday.

The Tigers' administrative headquarters is located in the town of Kilinochchi.

The rebels, who want a separate state for the Tamil minority, have not commented on the military's claims.

But in an email they said an air force bombing raid had killed two civilians.

Sri Lanka's government is promising its people rapid victory in the war which began a generation ago.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has described the latest phase of the conflict as the final battle.

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