Colombo, Sri Lanka (BBN) – At least 39 Tamil Tiger rebels and a security force were killed in fresh fighting in the country’s restive northern region, the military said on Monday.

On Sunday, at least at least 39 Tamil rebels and one troop were killed in heaviest battles in different parts of the region, defense officials confirmed.

A total of 5,060 Tiger rebels have been killed since the start of the year while 447 soldiers also lost their lives in the same period, according to the Defense Ministry statistics, released on Sunday.

It was not possible to independently verify the military’s claims because media are banned from the northern jungles where much of the fighting takes place.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels have been battling for an independent homeland since 1972 in an ethnic conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.