Sri Lanka Navy Kills 30 Tiger Rebels in Sea Battle
Sri Lankan navy gunboats Sunday sank at least four Tamil rebel craft off the island's northeastern coast killing at least 30 rebels, the defense ministry said.
The fighting erupted when the navy detected boats of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) off the coast of Mullaitivu, ministry spokesman Sanath Karunaratne said.
"We have confirmed reports of four LTTE boats destroyed by the navy and that at least 30 terrorists have perished in the attack," he said.
Navy craft sustained minor damage during the gun battle, but there were no fatalities among sailors, Karunaratne added.
He said there had been initial suspicion that another two vessels were bringing in supplies for the rebels, but investigations established they were genuine merchant ships.
There was no immediate reaction from the rebels to the military claims.
A week ago, the LTTE launched a major suicide attack against a ship ferrying 1,200 government soldiers near the northern peninsula of Jaffna.
The navy beat back the attack but at least 11 sailors were killed and another 12 were reported missing.
The Tigers admitted that they had deployed six suicide bombers in boats packed with explosives to carry out the attack which was repulsed by navy gun boats escorting the ship.
Tiger guerrillas are leading a campaign for independence in the island's north and east. More than 60,000 people have been killed in fighting in the past three decades -- COLOMBO (AFP)
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