Rebels claim overrunning navy outpost, 14 killed
Tamil rebels claimed to have overrun a navy outpost in north-western Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing at least 10 sailors and escaping with ammunition and weapons, but the military said it thwarted the attack, reported dpa.
A naval spokesman said three sailors and four rebels were killed in the clash at Erukkalampiddi on Mannar island, 320 kilometres north of Colombo.
The pro-rebel Tamilnet website quoted the rebels as saying 10 sailors and four rebels died and posted pictures of the overrun outpost and the arms and ammunition said to have been captured.
The navy said rebels arrived in six boats and mounted an attack on a navy guard point, but the sailors fought back and called in air support to attack the fleeing rebels.
There was no independent confirmation of the incident, which came as government troops pushed further into rebel-controlled areas in Mannar district during an operation that has lasted more than six months.
The rebels, who are seeking an independent state for minority Tamils in majority-Sinhalese Sri Lanka, have been putting up resistance, but troops have been able to push back the guerrillas and take control of some rebel-held areas.
The government has vowed to retake all rebel-controlled areas in the north by the end of the year.
A Norwegian-brokered ceasefire was in place from February 2002, but fighting recommenced in 2005 and more than 5,000 rebels, security forces personnel and civilians have been killed since then.