updated 8/5/2006 12:12:25 AM ET 2006-08-05T04:12:25

Government troops repulsed a Tamil rebel attack in northeastern Sri Lanka and killed 35 insurgents, the military said Saturday.

The fighting Friday over a strategic jetty near the town of Mutter came as a Norwegian peace envoy traveled to a rebel stronghold in efforts to prevent the country from sliding back into full-blown civil war.

“Our forces have repulsed a major terrorist attack, and based on our ground information we have learned that 35 bodies of terrorists are lying there,” military spokesman Maj. Upali Rajapakse said in Colombo.

He said the military had retrieved the bodies of nine Tamil Tiger rebel and would hand them over to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

There was no independent confirmation of the military’s claim.

A two-decade civil war killed about 65,000 people before the Norwegian-brokered cease-fire, which left parts of the north and east under rebel control. While the agreement officially remains in effect, escalating violence since December has killed at least 900 people, half of them civilians.

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