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Tamil rebels kill 22 soldiers, attack police post in eastern Sri Lanka

April 27, 1997

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Separatist rebels killed 22 soldiers in an ambush of an army patrol in eastern Sri Lanka on Sunday, the military said.

At least another four soldiers were wounded in the attack at Polmoddai village in the eastern Trincomalee district, military spokesman Capt. L.S. Palihawardane said. The area is 150 miles northeast of the capital, Colombo.

The Tamil rebel casualties were not known. The rebels fled after the attack, taking their dead and injured with them, Palihawardane said.

In a separate confrontation on Sunday, rebels attacked a police post at Pallikudiyirippu village in the Trincomalee district, killing at least five policeman and two civilians, another military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The rebels are fighting for an independent homeland for the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, where the Sinhalese majority controls the government and the military. The war has killed more than 48,000 people since it began in 1983.

The government has captured vast areas from the rebels in the north over the past two years, but the rebels are making gains in the east.

In a statement from their London office, the rebels claimed Sunday that they had killed 23 soldiers in an attack Monday in the eastern Batticaloa district. The military had said the attack killed 12 soldiers.

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