COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Sri Lanka on Monday claimed its security forces had killed 28 Tamil Tiger rebels in clashes in the troubled northern region of the island nation.
The Defense Ministry said four of its soldiers were injured in mine explosions in Thampanai and Kuduruvitankulama areas of the north during operations Sunday.
In the most serious of the latest clashes with the Tamil Tigers, the ministry said eight rebels were killed in Mannar, Press Trust of India reported.
The Tamil Tigers have been fighting for years for a separate homeland for the Tamil-speaking minority in the predominantly Buddhist country. Violence has surged in recent months in the country, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people.
Last week, the Defense Ministry claimed its soldiers killed 16 rebels.
A government-owned publication also claimed the Tigers' elusive leader Velupillai Prabhakaran suffered injuries in an air raid last month and that his supporters were trying to smuggle him out of the country for treatment. The Tamil Tigers denied the report.