COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — One of the bloodiest battles in Sri Lanka's 13-year-old civil war raged by land, sea and air Saturday as Tamil rebels lay siege to a key coastal military base, the Defense Ministry said.
The rebels say they have destroyed the Mullaittivu base, killing 800 government soldiers and losing 120 of their own men since Thursday, according to a statement issued by their London office.
The Sri Lankan military said soldiers were still defending the base 170 miles north of the capital, Colombo. Maj. Tilak Dunuwille, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said 211 soldiers and sailors and 425 rebels have been killed.
But other military officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the number of soldiers killed was far higher. The base had 1,200 personnel.