Fall of LTTE political capital Kilinochchi imminent: Sri Lanka

November 26th, 2008 - 4:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Nov 26 (IANS) The fall of the key rebel town of Kilinochchi was “imminent” with government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) engaged in fierce fighting on its outskirts, the Sri Lankan military said here Wednesday.Asserting that troops were making further ground advances, defence and national security spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said pitched battles were currently taking place on the outskirts of the LTTE’s “political capital”, 350 km north of Colombo.

Both the parties were locked in gunbattles, braving torrential rains. The defence ministry said troops were prepared to “face any challenge that comes in their way in the battlefield” and were determined to capture the rebel town.

“There is fierce fighting going on but the fall of Kilinochchi is imminent,” Rambukwella told reporters.

The government’s claims came as elusive rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran marked his 54th birthday Wednesday and is set to deliver his annual Heroes’ Week address Thursday.

There was no immediate reaction from the LTTE, which has been fighting to carve out a separate state in the northeast for a quarter century.

Defence experts say that the recapture of Kilinochchi by the government troops well after a decade would deal a major blow to the LTTE, militarily and psychologically.

Thousands have died and several hundreds of thousands have faced displacement in escalating fighting since late 2005.

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