COLOMBO Aug 17 Almost 50 Tamil Tiger fighters
and seven soldiers have been killed and an important rebel
training base has been captured in fighting in Sri Lanka's
north over the past two days, the military said on Sunday.
The rebel training base in Mullaitivu district, complete
with underground bunkers, was captured on Saturday while
fighter jets bombed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
positions as part of a continued push into rebel strongholds in
"Troops have captured one of LTTE training bases with 100
underground bunkers," said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya
Nanayakkara described the capture of the training base as a
blow to the rebels, who are fighting for an independent state
in north and east Sri Lanka for ethnic Tamils, a minority in
the predominantly Sinhalese island nation.
"Whenever we come across these types of bases and camps we
will attack them and cause maximum casualties to them and this
will affect their fighting capacity," Nanayakkara said.
The military said 49 Tamil Tiger rebels had been killed in
fighting since Friday and another 59 wounded. It said seven
soldiers were also killed and 32 wounded.
The latest push comes days after the military said it had
captured an LTTE administrative hub, a strike it says will
restrict rebel sea movement on the country's northwestern
The military claims its forces have entered the Vanni
region in the north where the rebels' de facto capital
Kilinochchi is located, amid a barrage of land, sea and air
The Tamil Tigers were not immediately available for comment
on the latest fighting.
So far this year some 5,823 rebels have been killed in the
fighting with the loss of 767 soldiers, according to a
compilation of military data.
Both sides frequently underplay their losses and exaggerate
their victories. Independent verification of their claims is
Sri Lanka's government is pursuing a strategy to gradually
retake the Tigers' northern stronghold and win the 25-year
civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people.
Analysts say the military has an advantage in the latest
phase of the war given its superior air power, strength of
numbers and swathes of terrain captured in the island's east.
But they still see no clear winner on the horizon.
(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Paul Tait)