At least 36 Tamil Tiger rebels and five soldiers were killed in fighting in northern Sri Lanka as troops further expanded their area of control, military officials said on Thursday.
Fighting between government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was reported from Kilinochchi, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts, more than 300 km north of the capital.
In Thunukkai of Kilinochchi district, 19 LTTE rebels and four soldiers were killed when heavy fighting erupted Wednesday, officials said.
Sri Lanka Air Force provided air support by bombing some of the rebel targets ahead of the defence lines, the military said.
In Vavuniya, 11 rebels and a soldier were killed in clashes, military officials said.
Six more rebels were killed in sporadic incidents.
Government troops with air cover have been advancing into rebel-held areas in a series of military operations carried out from the northern parts of the country.
The operations are targeting the two districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.
The operations against the rebels to recapture areas under their control were launched in April 2006 and since then more than 10,000 rebels and 1,900 soldiers have been killed, according to figures provided by the military.
However there is no independent confirmation about the casualty figures given by the military.