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Sri Lankan Military Says Navy Sinks Three Rebel Boats, Kills Top Commander


Sri Lankan military officials say the navy has sunk three Tamil Tiger rebel boats during a sea battle off the country's northeastern coast, the latest in a series of nearly daily clashes.

Officials said Friday that the battle erupted when the navy spotted about 20 rebel boats approaching a coastal area, Pulamudai, near the port city of Trincomalee late Thursday.

The military says several rebel fighters, including a top commander, were killed in the fighting. One navy sailor was also killed.

The military also said Friday that at least 10 Tamil rebels were killed in separate clashes in the northern districts of Mannar, Vavuniya and the Jaffna peninsula.

The number of casualties could not be independently confirmed and rebels did not comment on the attacks.

On Thursday, the military said at least 11 Tamil rebels were killed in two separate battles near Jaffna and Vavuniya.

Fighting has continued despite calls by both sides this week for an end to the violence.

Tamil Tiger rebels called Tuesday on the international community to rein in the Sri Lankan government and ensure that it honors a 2002 truce. Sri Lankan officials later pledged to stop military action if the rebels agreed to resume talks.

The rebels have been fighting for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's minority Tamils for more than two decades. The conflict has claimed nearly 70,000 lives.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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