Sri Lanka: Military says 38 rebels, 4 soldiers killed in fighting

Government forces and ethnic Tamil rebels fought fierce battles across northern Sri Lanka that killed 38 guerrillas and four soldiers, the military said Friday. Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Both sides in the conflict have been accused of greatly exaggerating enemy casualties while underreporting their own. It is not possible to independently verify battle reports because the government has restricted access to the northern jungles where the fighting is taking place. In the worst of the fighting Thursday, troops killed 12 Tamil Tiger rebels and lost two soldiers in a battle in the Welioya area south of rebel-held territory, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. Troops killed 12 other rebels as they captured the small suburban area of Parappankandal in the northern Mannar district, he said. Other battles across the front lines killed 14 rebels and two soldiers, he said.