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150 die in Sri Lanka fighting

Nearly 150 people were reported killed Wednesday in the bloodiest day of Sri Lanka's 12-year-old civil war.

Among the dead were as many as 75 soldiers who died in a guerrilla attack in the north. The rebels crossed a shallow lagoon in boats and by wading just after midnight to storm a garrison on Mandaitivu island, 180 miles north of Colombo, the capital.

The rebels are fighting for a homeland for minority Tamils who claim discrimination by the Sinhalese majority who control the government and military. More than 35,000 people have been killed since 1983.

Brig. Sarath Munasinghe, a government spokesman, said 35 soldiers were killed and 36 wounded in Wednesday's attack; military officials said 75 soldiers died and 45 were wounded.

"According to a body count and rebel radio intercepts, at least 50 guerrillas were also killed in the attack," Munasinghe said.

The rebels took weapons and ammunition and set fire to the camp's bunkers and living quarters. Guerrilla radio said the raid was led by elusive rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, who reportedly never sleeps in the same bed twice.

The military said soldiers recaptured the base late Wednesday morning.

In four other attacks on this Indian Ocean island, 15 government troops and nine rebels were killed.

At least 1,023 people have been killed since the rebels broke off a cease-fire April 19. They shot down two transport planes April 29, killing more than 100 people.

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