A series of clashes over the weekend between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger rebels left at least 39 separatists and three soldiers dead, the defence ministry said Monday.
Government troops shot dead the rebels in the north during two days of fighting that ended Sunday, the ministry said, adding 15 soldiers were injured.
There was no immediate comment from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), whose armed struggle for an independent state for minority Tamils in the island's north and east have left tens of thousands dead since 1972.
At least 2,456 rebels have been killed by security forces since January, while 150 government soldiers have died in action in the same period, according to defence ministry figures.
Casualty numbers given by both sides cannot be independently confirmed as Colombo bars journalists and rights groups from frontline areas.
The Colombo government has vowed to defeat the Tamil Tigers and has scrapped a ceasefire with the rebels this year. (AFP)
Clashes kill 42 in Sri Lanka