LTTE bases attacked

COLOMBO: Government forces pounded rebel defences with airstrikes, helicopter attacks and ground assaults as heavy fighting across northern Sri Lanka killed 47 Tamil Tiger fighters and left 13 soldiers dead or missing, the military said on Wednesday. A rebel affiliated website claimed the Tamil Tigers had killed as many as 75 government soldiers in the recent fighting. The intense battles came amid a punishing government thrust into rebel-held territory in recent weeks that has forced the guerrillas to abandon large parts of their de facto state and a succession of key bases and towns to the advancing military offensive. — AP

Monk in the dock

HONG KONG: A Buddhist monk admitted in a Hong Kong court to keeping child porn at his monastery after alerting Interpol by downloading photos from an illegal website, local media reported on Wednesday. Chow Yee-cheong, 41, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to possessing 413 minutes of child-porn video and 85 photographs. He told police who raided his room at the monastery in May that he had bought the discs and downloaded the photos from the Internet to sate his “curiosity and sexual desire,” the South China Morning Post reported. — AFP

Emergency landing

MUMBAI: An Iran Air flight heading to Tehran returned to Mumbai soon after take-off and made an emergency landing after one of its engines caught fire, an airport official said on Wednesday. “Full emergency was declared on Iran Air flight IR 811, after one of its engines caught fire,” the unnamed representative from Mumbai’s international airport told the Press Trust of India news agency. All 294 passengers on board the Boeing 747-200 aircraft were safe after the landing on Tuesday night. — AFP

Aussie soldiers hurt

SYDNEY: Nine Australian special forces troops have been wounded in a battle with Taliban in Afghanistan in the nation’s worst combat casualty toll in a single incident since Vietnam, the military said on Wednesday. “Australian forces serving in Afghanistan have been engaged again in heavy fighting against the Taliban,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said during a ceremony at the War Memorial in Canberra. “This fighting has seen nine Australian troops injured, some seriously.” — AFP