COLOMBO (AFP) — Sri Lankan forces pushed deeper into Tamil Tiger territory in three days of fighting that has left at least 90 guerrillas and nine government soldiers dead, the defence ministry said Tuesday.
Seven rebels were killed in Tuesday's clashes while 14 more died on Monday. Another 69 separatists were killed on Saturday and Sunday and a further 31 were "either killed or wounded," the ministry said.
Nine soldiers died and 40 were hurt in the battles with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), it added.
The ministry said some land was captured from the Tigers on Tuesday.
"Army troops captured one square kilometer in Palaikuli East (in northwestern Mannar district) today," it said.
Meanwhile, government fighter jets carried out two air raids over a bunker network in rebel-held areas in the north on Tuesday, the ministry said.
"Pilots have confirmed the target was destroyed successfully," the ministry said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment from the LTTE, which has been fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils since 1972.
However, the pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website reported that the Sri Lankan military had pulled back after suffering heavy casualties over the weekend.
Since the beginning of the year, at least 1,816 rebels and 105 government soldiers have been killed in fighting, according to the defence ministry. Aid workers say more than 170 civilians have also perished during the same period.
Sri Lanka plans to spend a record 1.57 billion dollars on defence in 2008, up 20 percent from last year, mainly to fight the guerrillas.
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