Clashes between Sri Lankan soldiers and Tamil rebels in the island's north have killed about 30 people, the two sides said Wednesday.
The clashes broke out a day earlier near the frontier separating government- and guerrilla-held areas in northern Sri Lanka — violence that each side accused the other of instigating.
A military spokesman, Lt. Col. Upali Rajapakse, said unprovoked rebel mortar fire killed a soldier at a checkpoint, forcing the army to respond with its own artillery and mortar fire that left at least 20 insurgents dead.
"The figure may be more, but this is what we have from our intelligence sources," Rajapakse said.
Tamil rebels countered that their fighters had ambushed soldiers making a push through jungle into rebel territory, killing eight to 10 troops.
"We have the bodies," rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan said in a statement posted on a pro-rebel Web site, TamilNet. He added that three insurgents were also killed.
The area is largely off-limits because of the fighting, and it was not possible to independently verify either side's claims.
The rebels have been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's 3.1 million Tamils, a largely Hindu ethnic group. The Tamils have faced decades of discrimination from the predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese, who make up a majority of the nation's 19 million people.
At least 65,000 people were killed before a 2002 cease-fire which officially remains in force but has completely unraveled over the last 18 months as tit-for-tat attacks have grown into all-out war. Another 4,000 people, many of them civilians, are estimated to have been killed since late 2005.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16