COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers said Thursday they had killed 10 soldiers while security forces said they killed 35 rebels during the latest heavy clashes across the island's north. Two policemen were also shot dead by unidentified gunmen late Thursday in the eastern coastal region of Batticaloa, the Defence Ministry said. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said their fighters had beaten back an army attempt to break through their forward defence lines near Vavuniya during a six-hour battle on Wednesday. "The Sri Lanka army has suffered casualties, at least 10 killed," the LTTE was quoted as saying by the pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website. The rebels did not disclose details about their own casualties. The country's Defence Ministry countered by saying a total of 46 rebels had been killed on Wednesday - 20 in the Vavuniya area, and 26 others in Weli Oya, Mannar and Jaffna. One soldier was killed, the Ministry added. "It is clear confrontations throughout areas in Vavuniya have been successful for security forces. LTTE have suffered major setbacks throughout the area," the ministry said. Israel-built MiG-27 fighter jets were active in the northern regions of Mannar on Thursday, giving air cover to ground troops, air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nannayakkara said. According to the defence ministry, 4,081 Tamil Tigers and 337 government troops have been killed since January. The figures cannot be verified as journalists and rights groups are barred from frontline areas. The LTTE has been fighting for more than three decades for a separate homeland for minority Tamils in the majority Sinhalese island's north and east. Tens of thousands of people have died on both sides in the conflict. Fighting on the island has intensified since January when the government pulled out of a truce with the LTTE.