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13 Lankan soldiers killed in clashes with LTTE

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Aug 2, IRNA

Sri Lanka-Army-LTTE

At least 13 Sri Lankan soldiers and 18 Tamil Tiger rebels were killed and over 50 wounded in clashes in the northern Wanni region as South Asian leaders arrived in Colombo for the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, it was announced on Saturday.

Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara added that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) guerrillas and army soldiers clashed at Mallavi in Mullaitivu district Friday.

"Eleven soldiers and nine LTTE cadres were killed during the fighting that lasted throughout Friday. The LTTE offered heavy resistance as the troops are inching forward into the rebel stronghold," IANS reported quoting Nanayakkara.

Twenty soldiers and 27 LTTE cadres were also wounded during this clash at Mallavi.

In separate clashes at Vellankulam in the northwestern Mannar district, two government soldiers and nine rebels were killed Friday.

The troops recovered the dead body of a rebel along with a few firearms, Nanayakkara said.

Meanwhile, pro-LTTE website claimed that 30 government soldiers were killed and 60 more wounded in the clashes in Mallavi. It also claimed that the rebels had captured an army vehicle along with some military hardware.

However, Nanayakkara dismissed the report, saying they were "not true".

Fresh violence erupted as leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan arrived in Colombo for the SAARC summit amid tight security.

The LTTE had announced a 10-day unilateral truce between July 26 and Aug 4 as "a goodwill gesture" for the SAARC summit, but the ruling coalition led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa rejected the offer as "a trap".

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