At least 16 Tamil Tigers and two soldiers were killed in fierce clashes as fighter jets targeted a key LTTE arms and ammunition manufacturing unit in the embattled northern Sri Lanka, officials said on Thursday.
Supersonic jets raided one of the LTTE's main arms and ammunition manufacturing yards located in Mullaithivu district, Sri Lankan Air Force spokesperson, Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara, said.
The targeted LTTE unit was located in the general area north of Udayarkattukulam, he said, adding the rebel base was under constant air surveillance for a long period and intensified activities were also observed there recently.
"The air sorties were launched based on real-time ground information and the pilots returned completing a successful air raid," air force sources said.
"Defence observers say that recent trend in air raids shows a significant enhancement in defence surveillance capabilities as a majority of the targets have been LTTE's covert locations rather than overt camps," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.
In ground clashes, troops killed two LTTE rebels in a confrontation in Navvi area in Vavuniya on Wednesday, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.
Separately, security forces destroyed two LTTE bunkers and killed seven Tiger rebels in Nedunkandal in northwestern Mannar on Wednesday, the army said.
Security forces gunned down another Tiger rebel later in the day in the same area, the MCNS said.