Thousands more Tamil civilians have fled their homes innorthern
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The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said about2,000 men, women and children have left their homes in the district of Mannarwhere heavy fighting has been raging since Thursday.
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One government soldier was killed and three others woundedin Mannar district in the latest shelling by the rebels, the defence ministrysaid on Sunday.
It also said that the government troops retaliated andinflicted unspecified casualties on the guerrillas.
The ministry said that at least 49 Tiger rebels were killedin the latest fighting. The military placed its own losses at 10 killed and 46seriously wounded, with another 45 listed as minor casualties.
For their part, the LTTE said they lost 13 of theircombatants and claimed to have killed 60 government troops. Both sides areknown to overestimate the losses suffered by the other.
Thousands of civilians living along the de facto borderseparating Tamil Tiger territory from the rest of the island fled to the safetyof public buildings to avoid shelling by both sides, local officials said.
They said about 300 civilians had crossed the front lines onSaturday and entered government-held areas, where troops provided them withfood.
The Tigers said the refugee crisis in Mannar has compoundedproblems for relief workers already grappling to feed nearly 300,000 internallydisplaced people in the island's embattled regions.
Relief worker killed
The rebels on Sunday accused the army of planting a roadsidebomb that killed a local aid worker and wounded three others when it explodednear their vehicle in Mannar on Saturday.
"This is the work of the Sri Lankan army's deeppenetrating unit," Navaruban Selvy, LTTE spokeswoman, said bytelephone from her office in the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi, about300km north of the capital.
"The victims were trying to arrange relief for thecivilians recently displaced as a result of the latest fighting."
The worker was a volunteer with the Tamils' RehabilitationOrganisation, a local charity that operates refugee centres and distributes aidin rebel territory.
The report of the blast came as the defence ministry said ithad killed two suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in the northern
In the east of the island, police recovered the body of sixsuspected Tiger rebels killed by troops in a confrontation over the weekend anda magisterial inquiry was held on Saturday, police said.
More than 4,000 people have been killed in a wave offighting in
The LTTE has been waging a 35-year campaign for anindependent homeland for