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|Saturday, April 21, 2001, updated at 20:02(GMT+8)|
Sri Lankan Navy Fights Against Tamil Rebels in Second Sea BattleSri Lankan navy fought against separatist Tamil Tiger rebels on Friday in their second sea battle this week, a military spokesman said.
Military spokesman Sanath Karunaratne said the fighting took place about 32 nautical miles northeast of the coast of Mullaitivu when a navy patrol came across a convoy of Tamil rebel boats before dawn.
The navy destroyed five boats of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels in the fighting. The air force which assisted the navy in the fighting refrained from attacking one rebel boat due to the presence of civilians. The civilians were found unloading supplies for the rebels at a fishing village.
Four navy sailors were wounded while navy craft were also sustained minor damage by LTTE gunfire, Karunaratne said.
The navy rescued six LTTE boat crews who were struggling in the sea after the battle. Actual casualty figures of the LTTE are not available, he said.
On Tuesday, the navy and Tamil rebels fought a fierce sea battle in the same area despite a government truce called for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
The LTTE rebels are observing a unilateral ceasefire which started on Christmas eve last year. They extended the truce every month ever since then.
The rebels have been fighting against government forces since 1983 for a separatist Tamil homeland in the north and east of the country. The bloody war has claimed over 60,000 lives.
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