Sri Lanka's military chief says his forces have wiped out the Tamil rebels' ability to fight as a conventional army.

Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka said Monday the rebels have changed their tactics, and they no longer have the strength or willpower to fight.

He estimated the rebels would lose even their current reduced capability within a year.

Fonseka said 9,000 Tamil rebels have been killed in the past two years, and that about 5,000 fighters remain.  He said 1,700 soldiers died during the same period.

The rebels have not reacted to Fonseka's comments.

Also Monday, police in the capital, Colombo, said a group of unidentified men assaulted a British High Commission employee and a journalist traveling in a car.  Both were wounded.

Britain's High Commissioner Peter Hayes condemned what he called the "despicable act" and demanded a full investigation.

Tamil Tigers have been fighting for an independent homeland for ethnic Tamils in the country's north and east since 1983.  More than 70,000 people died in the conflict.

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