Tigers, military battle in east

Colombo, November 23:

The Sri Lankan military, backed by tanks and war planes, battled Tamil Tiger rebels for over three hours today for control of territory in the east, a military spokesman said, while seven others, including three police, died in separate incidents.

Air force planes also pounded a camp of the rebels’ sea wing in the north, the military said.

At least seven government soldiers were wounded in the fight in eastern Batticaloa district, military spokesman, Maj Upali Rajapakse, said, adding rebel casualties were estimated in the “dozens.” “ Rebels launched a classic, conventional attack on our troops at dawn today and we fought back and managed to force them to retreat,” Rajapakse said, adding that the military used battle tanks and called in air support to bomb rebels’ long-range gun positions. “We believe our attacks have inflicted heavy casualties,” Rajapakse said. The Tigers, however, accused the military of trying to seize control of their territory.