Lankan troops enter southern end of Elephant Pass: official

January 5th, 2009 - 6:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 05 (IANS) Sri Lankan troops fighting their way northwards from the recently captured former LTTE stronghold of Kilinochchi Monday entered the southern end of Elephant Pass despite resistance from the rebels, an official said here.Geared up after their latest success of capturing the politico-administrative town of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after a decade, the troops backed by armour, artillery and aerial bombardment were poised to retake the next major landmark of Elephant Pass.

“The troops have entered the southern causeway of Elephant Pass by noon today (Monday). They are currently consolidating their newly acquired positions while further expanding their forward defences there. But the troops are yet to enter the Elephant Pass town limits,” Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told IANS Monday.

Kilinochchi town, which was captured by the advancing troops Friday, is located 350 km north of here. Elephant Pass, lying about 12 km away from the Kilinochchi on the Jaffna-Kandy main highway, is the isthmus to the northern Jaffna peninsula.

Confident after retaking the LTTE’s main politico-administrative town of Kilinochchi two days ago, the troops, backed by armour, artillery and aerial bombardment Sunday forced their way into the strategically important Oddusuddan township, lying ahead of Mullaitivu town.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) captured former military garrison of Elephant Pass in April 2000 and it was then considered a major success for the rebels.

The fall of Elephant Pass and Muhamalai, the last LTTE strongholds lying some 20 km north of Elephant Pass on the main highway, would enable the military to open the Jaffna-Kandy A-9 main supply route for public and troops there.

The troops in Jaffna would no longer be relying on supplies through ships. The transport on ships was very costly for the military.

There was no immediate word from the LTTE, which has been fighting against the Sri Lankan government for a quarter century to carve out a separate state for Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the island.

Thousands have died since late 2005 in the escalating fight.

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