Report: 60 Sri Lankan soldiers killed in fighting

Tamil Tiger rebels killed 60 Sri Lankan troops advancing toward their de facto capital, a pro-rebel report said, but the government denied Sunday that many soldiers had died. Meanwhile, the government said that its troops captured the strategic village of Nedunkerni in the northeast on Sunday. Clashes have intensified in recent weeks as the military continues a major push to capture the rebel headquarters and fulfill a promise to end the 25-year civil war. The insurgents struck Saturday as the soldiers were preparing an assault in Iranamadu village, just south of the guerrilla headquarters of Kilinochchi, and forced the troops to retreat from recently seized territory, the rebel-affiliated TamilNet Web site reported. The guerrillas recovered 12 bodies of Sri Lankan soldiers, and 150 other troops were wounded, the report said. It did not provide the number of rebel losses. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said there were a "few" deaths and some soldiers were reported missing. But he dismissed the casualty figures reported by TamilNet and said soldiers were not in retreat.