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Sri Lankan Air Strikes Target Tamil Rebel Positions


Sri Lankan officials say government war planes have bombed Tamil rebel positions near northern Jaffna peninsula, but they say the number of casualties is not known.

The Associated Press quotes a Defense Ministry official as saying that gun battles also continue on the ground and eight rebels were killed Wednesday. There have been no reports of government casualties.

Tuesday, the government closed all schools after Tamil rebels alleged that air strikes by the army had killed 61 schoolgirls in an orphanage in the district of Mullaitivu. They threatened to attack civilian targets in retaliation.

The government denied bombing an orphanage, saying the target was a rebel camp. However, a UN spokeswoman confirmed that at least 19 girls were killed.

The U.S. State Department has issued a warning against traveling in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

Aid workers say the past four weeks of fighting have displaced about 100,000 Sri Lankans in the north and east. The clashes have been the heaviest since the government and rebels signed a cease fire agreement in 2002.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.
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