9:51 AM

LTTE military Spokesman killed

The LTTE military wing spokesman I Illentheriyan killed during fighting Sunday, Intelligence Source confirmed..

--Minister Keheliya Rambukwella---

9:03 AM

US report blames Taliban for civilian deaths

The U.S. coalition blamed Taliban militants Saturday for causing what Afghan officials say are dozens of civilian deaths during a prolonged battle that included American airstrikes. The U.S. said an unspecified number of civilians died but did not take responsibility for any deaths.

Afghanistan's Interior Ministry declined to endorse the U.S. report, saying its own investigation would be completed soon.

Afghan officials have estimated up to 147 people died in the battle in the western province of Farah on Monday, but a U.S.

spokeswoman called that number exaggerated. The U.S. report did not offer an estimate of the number killed in the battle.

The preliminary report said Taliban fighters herded Afghan villagers into houses to use as human shields while they fired on coalition forces in two villages in Farah. The report said that U.S.

forces had responded to a call for help from Afghan forces and that militants attacked the troops from several locations.

Troops called for airstrikes on the militant positions, and a U.S. spokeswoman said Saturday that fighter aircraft made 13 passes over the two villages, using a combination of flares, strafing runs and bombs.

9:01 AM

Two LTTE senior level leaders killed

Deaths of senior LTTE operatives Cheliyan, the second in command of the LTTE Sea Tiger wing, and LTTE's military spokesman Illanthirayan are now confirmed.

Sri Lanka Amy revealed that the latest report received from Karayamullivakkal area confirmed that a senior LTTE leader identified as Cheliyan was the second in command of the LTTE Sea Tiger wing, was killed during confrontations that occurred when the troops captured a LTTE's earth bund built in the same area on Thursday (07).

According to Sri Lanka Army, Cheliyan was in his early 30s and was from Trincomalee. He was involved in many attacks on the Sri Lanka Navy in the past and received injuries in a confrontation with the Navy on 27th March 2008.

In the meantime pro-LTTE organ Tamil Net in a news report said, LTTE's military spokesman Punitharooban alias Ilanthirayan (Marshall) has succumbed to his injuries sustained on Saturday.

The 43-year-old Ilanthirayan was a senior member of the LTTE from Batticaloa district, who earlier served at the LTTE headquarters in the Vanni for many years before his appointment in charge of project planning for post Tsunami reconstruction in the eastern region by the then political head S.P. Thamilselvan.

Later, following Kaushalyan's assassination, he was appointed the head of LTTE's Batticaloa district political head, before his latest position as LTTE's military spokesman.