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Sri Lankan Troops Destroy 4 Rebel Bases, Kill 30

09 June 2007

Sri Lanka's military says troops destroyed four Tamil Tiger rebel bases in the island's restive east during fierce fighting that killed 30 rebels.

The army said the dead included three rebels who committed suicide rather than be captured. One soldier was reported killed and 17 were wounded.

There was no immediate comment from the rebels.

The violence came as Japan's special envoy to Sri Lanka ended a four-day visit Saturday, saying there were problems with Sri Lanka's human rights record, but that Japan would not suspend aid to the island.

Yasushi Akashi told reporters that he was going home with a certain amount of hope and optimism for the future of the country.

On Thursday, police raided Tamil areas in the capital of Colombo and forced hundreds of people to board buses bound for the north and east of the country. Sri Lankan military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe cited security concerns and said those deported had no valid reason to be there.

Sri Lanka's Supreme Court ordered authorities Friday to stop the evictions.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered a probe into the operation and said disciplinary action will be taken against any officials who committed wrongdoing.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo condemned the move and said it will widen the island nation's ethnic divide.

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