Sri Lankan soldiers killed six Tamil Tiger rebels in two clashes in the country's northeast, while a roadside bomb left one soldier dead, the military said yesterday, capping a week of bloodshed that has left dozens dead.
The bomb exploded as a military foot patrol passed by in northern Jaffna town yesterday, killing one soldier, military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said.
On Saturday, three rebels were killed when a military patrol returned insurgents' fire in northern Vavuniya, hours after a bus bombing blamed on the rebels in the area killed eight people, Samarasinghe said. One government soldier was killed. Three rifles were found.
Three more rebels were killed in another confrontation late on Saturday in eastern Batticaloa in which one soldier was wounded, Samarasinghe said.
No independent confirmation was available, and the rebels did not respond to telephone calls at their headquarters in small city of Kilinochchi yesterday.
Violence between government forces and the rebels -- who are fighting for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils in the island's north and east -- has increased dramatically in recent weeks as the government pushes to retake rebel-held territory.
The government has bombed the rebels' naval headquarters in the north over the last week, and clashed with the insurgents in the east and at sea, reportedly killing more than two dozen rebels.
The Tigers have struck back with bombings and several attacks at sea. Two bus bombings the military blames on the insurgents killed at least 23 people this week.