| GEO World|
| Sri Lanka says 180 rebels killed over weekend|
| Updated at: 1721 PST, Monday, March 09, 2009|
COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military said Monday its troops had killed at least 180 Tamil Tigers during a weekend of fierce fighting around the rebels' shrinking fiefdom in the northeast of the island.
Army spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said the Tigers, boxed into an area of less than 50 square kilometres (19 square miles) had launched a series of counter-attacks against advancing troops in the district of Mullaittivu.
The military said it had killed 100 rebels in clashes on Friday and Saturday, with another 80 bodies found on Monday.
"Security forces also lost a few soldiers... and a few (were) wounded," he said, without giving precise figures for government casualties. He added that a large haul of guns and ammunition were found. The Sri Lankan government bars most journalists and aid workers from the north of the island, meaning the claims cannot be confirmed.
Sri Lanka officially estimates that 70,000 civilians remain trapped in the war zone along with around 500 Tiger fighters, but the United Nations says the number of non-combatants could be about 200,000.
The government also insists it is trying to aid civilians and accuses the Tigers of using them as "human shields".