Sri Lankan troops killed 26 Tamil Tiger rebels in the latest fighting in the far north of the island, the military said on Friday, as government forces continued their push into the rebel stronghold there.
The fighting in several northern districts came a day after the military said they had captured one of rebels' administrative hubs, further restricting rebel sea movement on the country's northwestern coast after days of fighting.
"Two soldiers also died and 10 were wounded" in Thursday's fighting said a spokesman at the Media Centre for National Security.
The military claims its forces have entered the Vanni region in the north where the rebels' de-facto capital Kilinochchi is located, amid a barrage of land, sea and air attacks.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, fighting for an independent state in north and east Sri Lanka for ethnic Tamils, a minority in the predominantly Sinhalese country, were not immediately available for comment.
So far this year, according to a compilation of military data, some 5,774 rebels have been killed in the fighting.
Both sides frequently underplay their losses and exaggerate their victories. Independent verification of their claims is difficult.
Sri Lanka's government is pursuing a strategy to gradually retake the Tiger's northern stronghold and win the 25-year civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people.
Analysts say the military has an advantage in the latest phase of the war given its superior air power, strength of numbers and swathes of terrain captured in the island's east. But they still see no clear winner on the horizon.