18 Tamil Tigers killed in fighting

Colombo, December 25:

Sri Lanka’s military beat back a Tamil Tiger counter-offensive in the island’s north, killing at least 18 guerrillas, the defence ministry said today.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam mounted the offensive outside their besieged political capital of Kilinochchi yesterday, the ministry said.

“Well prepared troops engaged the advancing terrorists with armour, tanks, artillery and infantry causing heavy damage,” the ministry stated.

It said 18 rebels were killed and another 34 wounded, but did not give details of casualties on the government side.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website said there was heavy fighting in the area, but gave no further details. Military officials said war planes also carried out bombing missions against Tiger defences of Kilinochchi on Christmas day, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.