At least six government troops were killed when Tamil Tiger rebels attacked a military position inside Sri Lanka's main wildlife sanctuary, military officials said on Tuesday.
The bodies of the six men were found at first light on Tuesday following an overnight attack on an army detachment inside the Yala National Park in the southeast of the country, military officials said.
"We have found the bodies of six soldiers this morning and a search operation is now underway," an official in the area said by telephone. "Reinforcements have been deployed."
There were no reports of casualties among the rebels involved in the assault on the military detachment at Thalgasmankada, an area where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are known to have carried out attacks in the past.
However, in the north of the island, at least 20 Tiger rebels were killed and many more wounded in an exchange of fire with security forces, the defence ministry said.
It said one government soldier was killed and seven were wounded following the clashes Monday at Mullikulam in the northern district of
Vavuniya bordering rebel-held territory.
There was no comment from the LTTE, which has been fighting since 1972 for autonomy in the island's north and east in a conflict that has killed thousands and displaced hundreds.