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Sri Lankan Military Pounds Rebel Stronghold

Sri Lanka's military says air force fighter jets attacked the rebel Tamil Tigers' stronghold, Kilinochchi, Wednesday.

An air force spokesman said the planes hit their intended targets.

Also today, the military said 26 rebels and four soldiers have been killed in the latest battles in the north.

It is difficult to independently verify casualty figures because of the ongoing conflict.

Separately, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said troops are about five kilometers outside Kilinochchi. Rajapaksa said "it is the beginning of the end" for the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Rajapaksa was speaking to state media and British radio.

Tamil rebels have been fighting for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority since 1983. They say the Sinhalese majority discriminates against ethnic Tamils.

An estimated 70,000 people have been killed in the civil war.

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