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Sri Lankan Military: Tamil Tigers Killed in New Offensive

The Sri Lankan military says it has killed 11 suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in the northeastern district of Mannar, as it began a new offensive against the separatists.

Military officials say they intercepted radio communications that indicated 11 Tamil rebels were killed in clashes with government forces on Friday.

However, the rebels say they lost only one fighter, and killed one government soldier.

The Tamil Tigers also say at least three civilians who were fleeing the area were killed in a military mine attack.

A military spokesman, Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe, says the new operation was a "humanitarian offensive" to liberate about 6,000 people being held in the area.

Fighting between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels has intensified recently despite a 2002 cease-fire.

Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's minority Tamils. About 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

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