December 11, 2008 / 9:15 AM / 11 years ago

Sri Lanka disputes rebel claim of killing 89 troops

COLOMBO, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels on Thursday said they had killed 89 troops in two battles around their headquarters town but the military said 20 soldiers and 27 insurgents died in the clashes.

The battles occurred on Wednesday to the south and southwest of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) self-proclaimed capital, Kilinochchi, the pro-rebel web site www.TamilNet.com said, quoting LTTE officials.

A further 180 troops were wounded, it said. The web site displayed 14 photographs, credited to the LTTE, which it said were from the battle and its aftermath.

They show a long earthen trench line with the bodies of what TamilNet said were soldiers and also of what it says are rebels engaged in heavy fighting.

One photograph, taken between trees, shows a group of men in the distance that TamilNet said were troops withdrawing with wounded comrades.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the pictures were likely staged and that it was impossible to say when they were taken. He confirmed the clashes had occurred.

“Over 27 LTTE terrorists were killed during the battles and 20 army soldiers also died during the battles in last two days,” he said.

The Tigers could not be reached for comment. Independent confirmation is all but impossible since both sides limit media access to the war zone. (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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