34 rebels killed in fighting, Sri Lankan military claims

Published on 02 April 2009

Sri Lankan troops killed 34 members of the separatist rebel group the Tamil Tigers Thursday during fierce fighting in the island's north in a drive to end a 25-year-old civil war, the military said. Troops collected the bodies of 31 rebels after intense clashes near Puthukkudiyiruppu, the last township held by the Tamil Tigers inside a tiny, shrinking territory, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said in Colombo. [...] Tens of thousands of civilians are trapped in the war zone. The military says the rebels are using them as human shields in a desperate attempt to avoid defeat. But the Tigers say the people do not want to leave and have asked for their protection. [...] The United States has donated $15,000 worth of food aid to Sri Lanka, sufficient to feed 300,000 displaced people for four months, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo said in a statement. The aid represents 21 per cent of the total food aid called for this year by the World Food Program, the statement quoted USAID Mission Director Rebecca Cohn as saying.

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