Jan 29, 2009

World - Sri Lanka conflict kills 16,700 people in three years

Colombo, Jan 29 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan military Wednesday said 13,000 Tamil Tiger rebels and 3,700 soldiers have been killed since the armed conflict between the two sides began to escalate in July 2006.

'In the last two months alone, 1,500 Tamil Tiger rebels and 150 soldiers were killed,' military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara, said.

The government earlier said 95 percent of the task to eliminate terrorism from the country has been achieved. The war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is nearing end as the areas formerly held by the rebels have been captured by the troops, it said.

Defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said the victory against the LTTE would be Sri Lanka's 'second independence' as it will pave the way for development.

Rambukwella, however, declined to forecast when the troops would have complete control of Mullaithivu district, the last stronghold of the rebels.

The LTTE has been fighting the security forces for more than two decades to establish an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island country, claiming discrimination at the hands of the Sinhalese-dominated governments. More than 70,000 people have been killed since the conflict started.

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