Sri Lankan troops killed four Tamil Tiger fighters in a clash overnight along the forward defence lines that separate government from rebel-held territory in the island's far north, the military said on Tuesday.
The clash in the northern Jaffna peninsula was the latest in a spree of land and sea battles, ambushes and bombings that have killed an estimated 4,500 people since a new chapter in a two-decade civil war erupted last year.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were not immediately available for comment.
"Troops confronted the enemy by the forward defence lines in Muhamalai. Four LTTE cadres were killed," said military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe. "Our troops can see the bodies but have not recovered them because of mine fields."
Suspected rebel roadside bombs injured eight people including two school children in Sri Lanka's far north last week, when a pro-rebel MP was also killed in the restive east.
Both the Tigers and President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government have repeatedly ignored appeals by the international community to halt fighting that has killed nearly 70,000 people since 1983.
Fighting is now focused on the north, where the Tigers run a de facto state after the government evicted them from swathes of territory they controlled in the east.
The Tigers, who see themselves as the army of the separate state they are fighting to establish, say they have now switched to guerrilla tactics and will continue to battle security forces in the east.
Analysts see no clear winner on the horizon.