"Troops were on an operation clearing bunker lines when an IED (improvised explosive device) went off and six soldiers were killed and 11 injured," said the source from Jaffna.
The authorities said the rebels left booby traps and improvised explosives behind after a failed attempt to capture the peninsula by seaborne Tamil Tiger rebels that dealt a further blow to a tattered 2002 ceasefire.
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Sri Lankan warplanes later bombed a rebel mortar position near the front line, the defence ministry said.
The Tigers have fought a three-decade battle for a homeland for the minority Tamil population in the country's northeast and the cultural capital of Jaffna is seen as symbolically important to bot