(dpa) - At least six soldiers and 30 rebels were killed in fierce confrontations between the two sides in northern Sri Lanka on the eve of the traditional New Year, a military spokesman said Sunday.
Troops backed by artillery fire advanced into rebel-controlled areas on Saturday in four locations in Mannar, 320 kilometres north of the capital, amid resistance from the rebels, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The army had extended their forward defence line with the operation and killed at least 30 rebels and injured over 50 of their cadres, he said.
Six soldiers were killed and 25 others were injured in the operation as the military described the fighting as "fierce confrontations."
In a separate incident, a suspected rebel had flung a hand grenade at a group at an army patrol killing a soldier in Nelliadi, Jaffna, 390 kilometres north of the capital on Saturday.
The fighting comes as the country marks the traditional New Year on Sunday with celebrations in all parts of the country.
The event is celebrated by the majority Sinhala Buddhists as well as the minority Tamil Hindus.
Government troops are continuing their military operations to recapture rebel held areas in the north and have vowed to wipe out the rebels before the end of the year, but both sides have been encountering heavy casualties.
During the last three months over 300 soldiers and police officers have been killed and over 2,000 injured. The military claims to have killed over 2,000 rebels during the same period.