COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Thousands of Sri Lankan troops fanned out Friday to defend their hold on the former rebel capital, a day after the government imposed censorship on foreign media and gave the military wide powers to help fight Tamil insurgents.
The government's Information Department said the military successfully repulsed several rebel attempts to breach the defense line.
Ariya Rubasinghe, director of information, said two soldiers were killed and one wounded in the latest fighting.
Rubasinghe, who is also the government's chief censor, said 458 rebel had been killed since the guerrilla offensive to take the Elephant Pass causeway began in late April.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been fighting for 17 years for an independent homeland for the country's 3.3 million minority Tamils. They accuse the majority Sinhalese of widespread discrimination in education and jobs, a charge the government denies. The government labels the Tamil rebels as terrorists.
Earlier, a senior military official said troop morale, seriously undermined after recent rebel successes, has improved since the government's stand against the rebels' advance toward their former capital, Jaffna.