Colombo, Oct 18: At least four suspected LTTE rebels were killed and three wounded in a clash with the Sri lankan Navy near north-western Mannar island, Defence Ministry said.
The Ministry, in a statement, said the naval Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC) detected and engaged a cluster of LTTE boats making-way towards Pesalai north from non-liberated Vidattalitivu in Mannar early today.
The gun-battle sparked when the naval boats approached these suspicious boats ''to apprehend the movement on waters strictly prohibited for fishing and other activities''.
''Suspicious LTTE boats have fired at patrol vessels drawing counter fire from naval units. LTTE boats were forced to flee leaving a boat with four slain bodies and three survivors,'' the report said.
A naval official told to the sources over the phone that the boat was apprehended by Navy and the three survivors have been handed over to Mannar Police for further investigations.
He said the identities of the three dead bodies were not immediately known and added that extensive search operations were under-way in the area.
There was no immediate reaction from the LTTE in this regard.