Lanka counts military loss in fight against LTTE

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Army lost nearly 24,000 personnel in its three-decade long conflict with the LTTE rebels, including over 6,200 in the latest offensive which began in late 2006, a senior official said today.

Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, said the Army paid a heavy price in militarily vanquishing the LTTE.

The final offensive began in August 2006 with the troops retaking a Tiger seized irrigation canal.

“Since then the security force, including the Army, Navy, the Air force, police and the civil defence force have lost 6,261 soldiers killed and 29,551 wounded,” Rajapaksa, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was quoted as saying by the state TV. “We made huge sacrifices for this victory,” he said. The total number of troops killed since 1981 when the offensive began was 23,790, he added.

The United Nations has estimated that nearly 100,000 people may have been killed in the near four-decade long ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

The Defence Secretary however did not give the casualty of the LTTE cadres killed in the conflict.