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Tamil Tiger rebels making a strong mark in Sri Lanka’s Civil War  

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June 21, 2000


COLOMBO (AP) - Sporadic fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels near the northern city of Jaffna killed at least 17 guerrillas and wounded seven, the government said Tuesday.


Five government soldiers were killed and four were wounded when rebels attacked them with mortars in Trincomalee in eastern Sri Lanka, said Ariya Rubasinghe, the chief government spokesman.


On Monday, 13 rebels were killed when government forces destroyed their bunker elsewhere on the Jaffna Peninsula. Troops also shot and killed four militants in three separate encounters 5-10 kilometers (three-six miles) from Jaffna city, Rubasinghe said.


Nearly 40,000 soldiers are defending the city, blocking the further advance of the guerrillas who had achieved stunning battlefield successes last month.


The purchase of new multi-barrel rocket launchers and Israeli Kfir warplanes appear to have turned the tide in the Sri Lankan military's favor.


While most of the fighting is taking place in the north, the militants have stepped up attacks in the east.


The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are fighting for a separate homeland in the north and east for the Tamil minority.


Since November, the guerrillas have taken control of vast tracts of land from government forces in the region.


The rebels have been trying to recapture Jaffna city, which they had lost to government forces in 1995. The rebels want the city to be the capital of the independent state they hope to have.



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