Colombo, Sri Lanka (BBN) – At least 39 Tamil Tiger rebels and a security force were killed in fresh fighting in the country’s restive northern region, the military said on Sunday.

Sri Lankan solders launched a fresh raid into territory held by Tamil Tiger rebels on the day, killing 15 guerrillas, while 24 rebels and one troop were died in other clashes, the military confirmed.

At least 15 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels were killed and twice as numbers injured when troops forced into LTTE forward defense lines at Kilali, Jaffna on Sunday morning, the defense ministry said in a press statement.

The figures raise to 5,714 the number of rebels killed by troops since January, while 520 soldiers have died in action over the same period, according to the defense ministry statistics.

It was not possible to independently verify the military’s claims because media are banned from the northern jungles where much of the fighting takes place.

The LTTE rebels have been battling for an independent homeland since 1972 in an ethnic conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

BBN/SI/SI/AD-11August08-2:02 AM