"Two soldiers were also killed and four wounded from the fighting."

Weekend clashes

According to the defence ministry, troops killed 54 fighters in a series of weekend clashes in the northern Jaffna peninsula, the northern districts of Vavuniya and Polonaruwa and in Mannar.

The LTTE did not confirm the death toll, but analysts say both sides inflate enemy casualty figures. There are no independent accounts and casualty statistics from the fighting.

Motivated by victories in the east, where it has captured LTTE-held terrain, the government is now seeking to overrun the Tigers' stronghold in the north of the country.

But the LTTE continues to mount suicide attacks and roadside bombings, with some occurring in Colombo, the capital.