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Page last updated at 04:50 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 05:50 UK

'Scores dead' in S Lanka fighting

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Colombo

Tamil Tigers
The Tigers have been waging a decades-old war against Colombo

Forty two Tamil Tiger rebels have been killed in fresh fighting with security forces in Sri Lanka, the military says.

Five soldiers were also killed in battles which took place on frontlines in the north of the island on Sunday.

The military has advanced rapidly into rebel-controlled territory to crush the rebels and end their fight for a separate state for the Tamil minority.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting for a separate homeland in the north and east for 25 years.

More than 70,000 people have died in the fighting.

Sunday was a heavy day of fighting in northern Sri Lanka, according to the military's spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara.

He said soldiers were trying to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the Tamil Tigers.

Surge in fighting

The bloodiest battle of the day was in Vavuniya, he said, where 18 rebels were killed as well as one soldier.

In Kilinochchi district, troops captured 500 metres of the Tigers' defences and killed another seven rebels. Three soldiers died there.

And in government-controlled Anuradhapura special forces troops killed what Brig Nanayakkara described as 10 rebels who were trying to infiltrate, with the loss of one soldier.

There were more confrontations in Mullaitivu, and Jaffna, also in the north.

The Tamil Tigers have not commented on the military's claims - with journalists barred from the conflict zone they cannot be independently verified.

Fighting has intensified in Sri Lanka in recent months as soldiers have advanced, aiming to crush the rebels and win the war which began a generation ago.

Tens of thousands of people have fled further in Tiger-controlled areas.

Over the weekend the rebels said the military had fired a shell which killed five civilians in a makeshift camp, including two small children.

The military denied the accusation.


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