We captured Elephant Pass, control vital highway: Rajapaksa (Second Lead)

January 9th, 2009 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 9 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa Friday announced that the troops fighting their way into the remaining Tamil Tigers’ strongholds in the north have captured Elephant Pass garrison, taking full control of entire stretch of the A-9 Jaffna-Kandy main highway after almost a decade.”Our troops by noon today (Friday) fully captured the Elephant Pass. With this our troops have completely liberated the A9 main highway from the LTTE,” President Rajapaksa announced in a televised address to the nation Friday evening.

He said it was for the first time after 23 long years that the government has taken full control of the 142-km long A-9 Jaffna-Kandy main supply route from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

“The army’s 53 and 55 Division troops advancing southwards along the A-9 highway achieved this success by capturing the entire Elephant Pass area after nine years from the LTTE,” he said.

The capture of the Elephant Pass is another huge blow to the movement after the fall of their politico-administrative capital Kilinochchi exactly a week ago.

The capture of Elephant Pass will enable the military to reopen the Jaffna-Kandy supply route for public and troops from the south to the north. The troops in Jaffna would no longer be relying on supplies through ships. The transport on ships was very costly for the military.

Encouraged by their latest success of capturing the politico-administrative town of the LTTE after months of fierce fighting, the ground troops backed by armour, artillery and aerial bombardment advanced from various directions towards Elephant Pass despite fierce LTTE resistance.

Kilinochchi town, which was captured by the advancing troops Jan 2, is located 350 km north of here.

Elephant Pass, lying about 12 km away from Kilinochchi on the Jaffna-Kandy main highway, is the isthmus that connects the northern Jaffna peninsula to the rest of the country.

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