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Sri Lankan Military Takes Key Tamil Stronghold, President Calls for Surrdender

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called on Tamil Tiger rebels to surrender after the military regained control of a key village.

In a televised address earlier Saturday President Rajapaksa hailed the military's capture of the strategic village of Pooneryn along the island's northwest coast.

He urged the rebels to lay down their arms, saying it would be the best thing they could do for the people living in areas of armed conflict.

It is not possible to confirm the military's claim because the Sri Lankan government has banned journalists from the conflict zone.

Sri Lankan forces have stepped-up a military campaign to push the Tigers from rebel-held territory in the north.

Tamil rebels, the country's ethnic minority group, have been fighting for an independent homeland since 1983.

Many Tamils say the Sinhalese majority discriminates against them.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in ongoing violence.

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