Sri Lanka weekend fighting kills scores - military
COLOMBO, July 14 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan troops have advanced into Tamil Tiger rebel-held areas in the far north as weekend fighting killed 62 rebels and one government soldier, the military said on Monday.
The fighting in several northern districts came amidst near daily land, sea and air attacks, as the government pursues a strategy to gradually retake the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) northern stronghold and win the 25-year old civil war.
"Troops killed 62 LTTE terrorists in fighting since Friday and one soldier also died," said a spokesman at the Media centre for National security.
The military said troops captured two areas in the northern district of Vavuniya on Friday, and inflicted heavy casualties on the rebels.
The air force said fighter jet planes bombed a "row of terrorists' bunkers" and a rebel equipment storage area on Saturday in the north.
"The air strikes hit the targets," said air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara.
The LTTE, fighting to create an independent state in north and east Sri Lanka for ethnic Tamils, a minority in the predominantly Sinhalese country, said in an emailed statement that a 20-year-old female student was injured in the aerial attack and admitted to hospital.
They also said indiscriminate government artillery fire damaged a school, other buildings and civilian houses.
The rebels were not immediately available for comment on the ground fighting.
Analysts say the military has the upper hand in the latest phase of the long-running war given superior air power, strength of numbers and swathes of terrain captured in the island's east, though they still see no clear winner on the horizon.
An estimated 70,000 people have died since the civil war began in 1983.
The Tigers regularly retaliate with suicide attacks increasingly targeting civilians and roadside bombs, experts and the military say, deterring some tourists and worrying investors in the $27 billion economy. (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Jerry Norton)
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