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DATE=6/10/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-250479 TITLE=LANKA / FIGHTING (L ONLY) BYLINE=VANDANA CHOPRA DATELINE=COLOMBO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: MORE THAN 60 TAMIL TIGER REBELS AND GOVERNMENT SOLDIERS HAVE BEEN KILLED IN FIGHTING IN NORTHERN SRI LANKA. VANDANA CHOPRA HAS DETAILS FROM COLOMBO. TEXT: THE DEFENCE MINISTRY SAYS GOVERNMENT SOLDIERS BATTLED WITH TAMIL TIGER REBELS NEAR THE TOWN OF PARANTHAN, BELOW THE NORTHERN JAFFNA PENINSULA. A MINISTRY STATEMENT SAYS TIGER SEPARATISTS USED MORTARS AND SMALL ARMS AGAINST THE TROOPS. MILITARY OFFICIALS SAY SECURITY FORCES DESTROYED EIGHT BUNKERS AND RECOVERED A LARGE AMOUNT OF ARMS AND AMMUNITION IN THE OPERATION. THERE HAS BEEN NO IMMEDIATE REACTION FROM TAMIL TIGER REBELS ON THE FIGHTING. SPORADIC FIGHTING HAS INCREASED IN SRI LANKA'S NORTH AND EAST EVER SINCE LAST YEAR, WHEN THE MILITARY CALLED OFF ONE OF ITS BLOODIEST CAMPAIGNS IN THE 15-YEAR-OLD ETHNIC WAR. LAUNCHED IN MAY 1997, THE CAMPAIGN WAS DESIGNED TO CAPTURE A KEY NORTHERN HIGHWAY. THOUSANDS OF REBELS AND SOLDIERS WERE KILLED IN THE GOVERNMENT OFFENSIVE, WHICH LASTED FOR NEARLY 18 MONTHS. INDEPENDENT CONFIRMATION OF THE LATEST ROUND OF FIGHTING IS NOT POSSIBLE AS JOURNALISTS ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE WAR-TORN AREAS. TAMIL TIGER SEPARATISTS ARE WAGING A WAR FOR A SEPARATE HOMELAND FOR THE MINORITY TAMIL COMMUNITY IN SRI LANKA'S NORTH AND EAST SINCE 1983. (SIGNED) NEB/VC/KL 10-Jun-99 2:03 PM EDT (1803 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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