A pro-rebel Web site Saturday says Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers have killed 51 soldiers in fighting in the island's north.
quotes the rebels' media unit as saying the clashes took place in
Dharmapuram village after the military launched an offensive there
Friday. The rebels said about 150 soldiers were wounded in the battle.
Lanka's military rejected the rebels' account, saying just seven
soldiers were killed in fighting Friday, along with about 20 rebels.
The conflicting reports come as Sri Lankan forces bear down on the rebels' final strongholds.
The military says the Tamil separatists are now confined to a 600 square-kilometer area in the north.
rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for Sri
Lanka's ethnic minority Tamils. They say Tamils are treated as
second-class citizens by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000
people have died in the conflict.
The International Committee
of the Red Cross says tens of thousands of Sri Lankan civilians have
fled northern areas where Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tigers are
engaged in fierce combat.
Red Cross officials say displaced
people are now concentrated in such a small area that health experts
are concerned about the safety of their living conditions.
The Red Cross is the only relief organization that the Sri Lankan government allows in the conflict areas.
The government says it can handle a mass exodus of refugees.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.