Troops capture last LTTE landmass in Jaffna (Lead)

January 14th, 2009 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 14 (IANS) Stepping up its campaign against the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lankan troops Wednesday captured the last rebel landmass in Jaffna peninsula in the country’s northern tip, military sources said. Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said troops expanding their defences on the eastern flank of the recently captured Elephant Pass and Nagarkovil area “have completely captured Chundikkulam and adjoining areas.

“The troops of the 55 Division have completely freed Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) by capturing their last strongholds along the eastern coast such as Vettrilaikerni, Thalaiyadi and Chundikkulam after heavy fighting today,” Nanayakkara told IANS.

The LTTE had maintained a couple of well-fortified naval bases in these areas to mount pressure on the troops deployed in Jaffna peninsula for the past few years.

Military experts said this would be an additional blow to the LTTE, which has already lost control of the coastal belt from northwestern Mannar district up to Pooneryn.

Military sources said the troops captured a large haul of Sea Tiger boats and anti-personal mines from these areas. The Sea Tigers is the naval wing of the LTTE.

Sri Lanka troops captured Kilinochchi town, 350 km north of here, Jan 2 after months of fierce fighting. The rebels withdrew to their last stronghold in Mullaitivu district.

Within a week, troops secured yet another battle success when they recaptured the 100-acre Elephant Pass garrison, taking total control of the 325-km A-9 Jaffna-Kandy supply route after 23 long years.

Separately, the ministry of defence said Wednesday that 655 civilians have fled LTTE-held areas and sought refuge with Sri Lanka Army soldiers since Tuesday night.

“These civilians have arrived in several groups at various locations in Jaffna peninsula and Kilinochchi district,” the ministry said, adding that the civilians in LTTE-held areas were deserting the Tigers.

The government said it was fully prepared to handle the exodus of civilians from LTTE held territory.

In a report posted on its website, the LTTE alleged Tuesday that four civilians were killed in shelling by the army on Thoddiyadi in Visuvamadu in Mullativu district Tuesday.

“Frequent shelling attacks around the small area … is resulting in heavy casualties on a daily basis. The displaced hospitals in this area are also coming under frequent attacks,” the Tigers claimed.

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