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The World

December 17, 1987

Indian troops backed by helicopter gunships and tanks launched a major offensive against Tamil rebels after five soldiers were killed in an ambush, Sri Lankan officials said. The offensive was concentrated about 170 miles from Colombo in the Tamil-dominated east, officials in the capital said. They said that Indian troops engaged members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the largest rebel group, in some of the fiercest fighting since India began a campaign to disarm the rebels in October. More than 25,000 Indian troops are in Sri Lanka under a July 29 peace accord aimed at ending an ethnic conflict between minority Tamils and the Sinhalese majority.

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