COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Government troops claimed Friday to have captured nearly half a strategic town held by Tamil rebels in the fourth day of heavy fighting that has claimed more than 340 lives in northern Sri Lanka.
Sixty rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and 16 soldiers were killed Thursday, and 100 guerrillas and 31 government troops were wounded, military spokesman Maj. Kumar Dewage said. Other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 46 soldiers had been killed. There was no comment from the rebels on casualties.
At least 341 people have been killed on both sides since Tuesday, when the battle began for Puliyankulam--strategically located between the capital, Colombo, and the government-held Jaffna peninsula.
Soldiers captured the town's unused railway station Thursday, Dewage said. The rail link through northern Sri Lanka had been destroyed long ago by guerrillas, who used the tracks to build defenses.