44 Soldiers, 75 Rebels Killed in Northern Sri Lanka
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ At least 44 soldiers and 75 Tamil rebels were killed on the bloodiest day of a two-week military offensive in northern Sri Lanka, the military said today.
Military sources gave an even higher toll, saying at least 68 soldiers died and some 300 were wounded. To maintain morale, the government often fails to report casualties.
The fighting occurred Sunday in Neerveli, five miles outside of Jaffna City, the rebel stronghold that the military is trying to capture.
More than 300,000 civilians have fled their homes to avoid military shelling, Christopher Jeyakumar, a Roman Catholic priest in the war zone, said in the capital, Colombo, on Sunday.
``The bombing is so bad that children cry and scream when they hear the sound of a warplane approaching,″ he said.
More than 37,000 people have been killed since the rebels began their war for a Tamil homeland in 1983.
The Sri Lankan army, now equipped with better weapons, has amassed more than 35,000 soldiers for the assault on Jaffna, which it described as the largest of the war.