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Six Tamil Rebels, Three Soldiers Killed In Clashes

September 11, 1996

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Naval gunboats destroyed seven rebel boats in sea battles off the northern Jaffna Peninsula, and 10 people were killed in a land battle between guerrillas and troops, the army said Wednesday.

The Tamil rebel boats were destroyed in three confrontations Monday night and early Tuesday, said Capt. Panduka Senanayake, a military spokesman.

Another rebel boat was damaged, but the army did not give guerrilla casualty figures in the attacks. The military suffered no casualties.

The land battle occurred Tuesday near the Pooneryn army base in the north, where government troops attacked with mortars and machine guns, said another military spokesman, Maj. Tilak Dunuwille.

At least six rebels and two soldiers were killed in the fighting 170 miles north of the capital, Colombo. Soldiers later recovered two guerrilla bodies, two automatic rifles, ammunition, four hand grenades, and a pair of binoculars, Dunuwille said.

In a separate clash, one soldier was killed and another wounded Tuesday when guerrillas exploded a mine as a military patrol approached them in the jungle in the Mullaittivu district, Dunuwille said.

The rebels have been fighting since 1983 for a separate nation in Sri Lanka’s north and east, claiming minority Tamils are discriminated against by the majority Sinhalese who control the government and the military.

More than 45,000 people have died in the fighting.

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