Final siege on Tigers has begun, says Sri Lanka

January 26th, 2009 - 8:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 26 (IANS) Expanding their defences after capturing the Tamil Tigers’ military nerve centre Mullaitivu, Sri Lankan troops have begun laying the final siege on the rebels who are still resisting, the defence ministry said Monday.The authorities said that with the seizure of Mullaitivu Sunday, “all seven offensive elements of the Sri Lanka Army are now sweeping up remaining LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) pockets towards the northeastern coast of the island.

“The troops of the army’s 55 Division marching down the coast towards Chalai lagoon gained considerable ground. Chalai remains the last stronghold of the Sea Tigers where defence observers expect the terrorists to fight their final battles,” said the ministry.

“The troops deployed in the northern section of the front are heading towards Chalai to link up with 55 Division while those in southern section are manoeuvring towards Vishwamadhu with the 57 Division,” it said, giving a detailed account of a number of clashes with the rebels Sunday.

According to defence sources, heavy fighting raged throughout Sunday when the LTTE made several attempts to breach the newly established forward boundary of the army in these areas.

“Troops successfully thwarted all these attempts. Both radio monitoring reports and ground sources confirmed heavy damages to the terrorists. Troops too sustained damages,” a source said, adding that the soldiers have completed their mopping up operations and were preparing to advance further.

The army last controlled the army camp in Mullaitivu in 1996 when the Tigers overran it in July, slaughtering over 1,000 soldiers and capturing a huge haul of weapons including long range artillery and mortars.

According to some reports, the LTTE is now confined to Puthukkudiyiruppu and Vishwamadhu, which remain under immense pressure from the advancing troops.

There has been no word from the LTTE, which has been fighting to carve out a separate state over the past quarter century.

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