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Tiger boats ‘destroyed’ in clash

Colombo, Dec. 26 (Reuters): Sri Lanka’s navy battled a flotilla of Tamil Tiger boats off the island’s northwest tip today, destroying 11 rebel vessels including two suicide boats and killing an estimated 40 insurgents, the military said.

A dozen navy fast-attack craft sank four of the rebel vessels, helicopter gunships and Israeli-made Kfir fighter jets sank another five and two rebel suicide vessels were destroyed when they rammed a navy boat which was badly damaged.

“They were involved in arms smuggling,” said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara. “In total, 11 Tiger boats were destroyed. We can’t say exactly, but we estimate around 40 Tigers were killed,” he added.

The military gave no details of any navy casualties from the clash, the latest in a series of land and sea battles. There were no independent accounts of what had happened and the Tigers were not immediately available for comment.

The remaining five rebel boats sped back to Tiger-controlled territory.

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