At least two civilians were hacked to death, three injured and four more remain missing after Tamil rebels carried out an attack in the southern part of the country, a military spokesman said on Monday.
The group of civilians had entered the woods as they tended their cattle in the Maligawila, Monragala, area, 360 kilometres south-east of the capital, On Sunday when they were attacked, the Defence Ministry said.
A search operation has been mounted in the area to locate the missing.
The attack came as government troops were in the final phase of their operation to capture the Tamil rebel stronghold of Mullaitivu in the north-eastern part of the country.
The military said that rebels may be trying to carry out diversionary tactics in the wake of heavy military pressure on them in the northern part of the country.
Over the past few weeks, some of the key towns held by the rebels have fallen to the security forces.