Sri Lankan troops captured a key village from the Tamil Tigers on Friday after heavy fighting that left at least 44 guerrillas dead while another 13 rebels were killed elsewhere, the military said.
Troops moved into Anandapuram, which the rebels had been using as a logistics base, after intense clashes on Thursday, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had been putting up stiff resistance to prevent the army taking the village, the spokesman said. He said two senior LTTE leaders were among 44 rebels killed in Thursday's fighting.
In another confrontation, police commandos killed 13 Tiger rebels in the eastern district of Ampara on Friday, the military said. The Tiger guerrillas are battling to resist a military assault that has pushed them into a 20-square-kilometre (eight square mile) patch of land in the northeast of the island.
The United Nations and foreign aid organisations say as many as 150,000 civilians may be trapped in the combat zone, although the Sri Lankan government insists the figure is less than half that.
At the height of their power in the mid-1990s, the Tigers controlled more than a third of the total land mass of Sri Lanka as they pushed for an independent Tamil homeland. Sri Lanka says its forces are about to deal a crushing blow to the Tigers in the decades-old ethnic conflict.