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* Heavy fighting erupts in northern Sri Lanka, Air Force raids LTTE targets
Monday, February 2, 2009, 7:45 GMT, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 02, Colombo: Day-long fighting erupted between the Sri Lankan army troops operating in the Wanni region and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) yesterday as troops came under heavy artillery attack from Tigers, the military said today.

Fighting between the troops of the 59 Division and LTTE rebels in the general area west of the Nanthikandal lagoon in Mullaitivu ensued since early morning yesterday after the Tigers fired artillery at the troops, defence reports said.

However the troops managed to counter the attacks amid heavy resistance from LTTE and are now conducting mop-up operations the military said.

The military accused the rebels of firing heavy artillery barrages yesterday towards troops of the Task Force -2, in general area of Udayarkattukulama near the declared civilian safe zone.

Task Force -2 troops meanwhile retaliated the LTTE attacks capturing a bunker site and reportedly killing at least 35 Tiger rebels in several confrontations, defence officials said.

Troops of 58 Division have also engaged the rebels despite heavy resistance in the area north of Visuamadu, reportedly killing over 11 Tigers and injuring 8 others.

Meanwhile Air Force fighter jets targeted LTTE strongholds north of Mullaitivu yesterday evening in support of the Army 59 Division soldiers.

A second air strike targeted an LTTE camp located 3 km north of Udayarkattukulam Tank at 10:50 last night, Air Force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said.

The rebels are now confined into an area of about 300 square kilometers in the jungles of Wanni region.

Humanitarian agencies operating in the conflict zone say an estimated 250,000 civilians are also trapped with the rebels in the small area as they are held by the LTTE as human shields.

The Sri Lankan government sticking to its zero civilian casualty policy has promised to ensure the safety of the civilians and take measures to free the civilians. The government has declared a safety zone in the rebel controlled area for the civilians.

Sri Lankan Daily News and Reports

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