Sri Lankan security forces have killed at least 23 TamilTiger rebels in fresh fighting in the island's east following a deadly busbombing, the defence ministry said Tuesday.
"On the west and south of Batticaloa, we have found 10 bodies of theLTTE cadres," spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said. "Altogether, 23Tigers have been killed in the fighting yesterday."
He said one soldier was also killed in the confrontation.
Last week the government said its troops had moved into the restive areawithout meeting any guerrilla resistance, and there had been no indication onMonday from the military or local residents that fighting was raging in thesparsely populated areas of Batticaloa.
There was also no immediate response from the Tamil Tigers.
The incident came a day after 16 people were killed and 25 wounded when abomb blast ripped through a bus in the island's east.
The defence ministry immediately accused Tamil Tiger rebels of setting offthe bomb, which coincided with a key Buddhist holiday, while the guerrillasdenied they were responsible.
Police said an investigation was underway over the bus attack in thedistrict of Ampara, just south of Batticaloa.
Passengers were getting off the bus to be checked by troops manning a roadblock when the blast occurred just outside the town of
The defence ministry also released new claims of rebel deaths over theweekend, saying that 12 Tamil Tigers were killed in clashes on Sunday in thenorthwestern district of Mannar.
"Intercepted LTTE communication confirmed their total losses as12," the ministry said. "No harm was reported to the security forces.A search operation is in progress in the area."
The Tamil rebels have waged a 35-year campaign for independence that hasclaimed more than 60,000 lives.
More than 4,000 people have been killed in the latest upsurge of fightingthat began in December 2005 despite a truce arranged in 2002.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16