FRESH FIGHTING BREAKS OUT IN SRI LANKA

At least 100 rebels and 10 soldiers were killed as government troops attacked a stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in northeastern Sri Lanka, a military officer said March 17.

At the end of seven hours of fierce fighting in the coastal area of Mullaitivu, two bases of the LTTE had been destroyed.

Most of the Tamil rebels were said to have been killed in air strikes. The offensive was expected to continue for a couple of days, the officer said.

The rebels, who seek Tamil independence, said March 17 they were willing to negotiate a political solution if the parliamentary committee appointed to resolve the country's ethnic dispute met them in the northern Jaffna district.

More than 8,000 people have been killed since the war broke out in 1990.

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