At least 40 rebels are believed killed in a mid-sea confrontation off north-eastern Sri Lanka where the navy sunk five rebel boats and damaged nine others, military officials said on Wednesday.
The clashes broke out when the navy confronted a cluster of 20 boats, including four suicide attack craft, off Vettilaikerni, 410 km northeast of in Colombo late on Tuesday.
The confrontation lasted past midnight and the navy was engaging some of the rebel's boats fleeing the area.
The navy called for air support to destroy some of the boats fleeing the area while the army used multi-barrel rocket launchers to confront the flotilla of boats, military officials said.
The navy claimed they did not suffer any damage due to the attack.
However, there was no independent confirmation about the casualty figures and damages inflicted by the navy and there has been no comment from the rebels.
Fighting in north and eastern parts of Sri Lanka have escalated during the past 18 months claiming the lives of more than 4,200 people.