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S Lanka army 'enters rebel town'

Government troops near Kilinochchi. File photo
The army says that it is on the verge of victory

Sri Lanka's military says it has entered a town in the north-east of the country used as a naval base by the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Government troops have entered Alampil, six miles (10km) south of Mullaitivu, the main town held by the rebels on the north-east coast, the army said.

There has been no comment from the Tamil Tigers.

Fighting has also been reported outside the town of Kilinochchi, site of the the rebels' political headquarters.

Kilinochchi is the rebels' de facto capital in the north and troops have been attacking it from three directions for a fortnight now.

The rebels have been fighting for a separate homeland for Tamils in the north and east since 1983 and 70,000 people have died in the violence

Military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara did not give casualty details.

Correspondents say the capture of the town is the latest indication of the government's supremacy in the Sri Lankan war, in which the rebels have been forced to abandon large tracts of land and retreat further and further into their north-eastern heartland.

Last month the army said that the capture of Kilinochchi was imminent.

The defence ministry also said last month that its soldiers were closing in on Mullaitivu, where the rebels are believed to have concentrated their forces following recent army advances elsewhere in the north.

But the Tigers' leader Velupillai Prabhakaran said that the government was living in "dreamland" if it expected outright military victory.

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