Fall of LTTE’s political hub of Kilinochchi inevitable: Sri Lanka (Second Lead)January 1st, 2009 - 9:04 pm ICT by IANS
Colombo, Jan 1 (IANS) Sri Lanka said Thursday that the fall of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) political hub Kilinochchi “is inevitable” with its ground troops making New Year breakthroughs by capturing a couple of strategic junction towns, lying on the outskirts of the well-fortified rebel stronghold.The defence ministry said the troops advancing from various directions towards Kilinochchi early Thursday captured the strategically important town of Paranthan and Iranaimadu junction after weeks of fierce fighting with the rebels, killing at least 50 guerrillas and wounding 100.
“The fall of Iranaimadu scores consecutive battle defeats to LTTE at the Kilinochchi battlefront, followed by the loss of Paranthan early Thursday morning. The troops are now making further advances eastward of the Iranaimadu junction while consolidating positions in the area,” the defence ministry said.
Paranthan is located approximately 4.5 km north of Kilinochchi along the Jaffna-Kandy A-9 main highway and on the southern sector of another LTTE-stronghold of Elephant Pass, while Iranaimadu is located six kilometer south of Kilinochchi town.
The government troops’ capture of these two strategic areas not only marks the dominance of security forces in these areas well after a decade, but is widely considered a major setback to the LTTE, which is battling to retain its hold on the Kilinochchi town, lying 350 km north of here.
“LTTE’s defeat at its main garrison township at Kilinochchi is inevitable with troops advancing on three fronts continue to cripple the last LTTE fortifications in the area,” the defence ministry said.
“The fall of Paranthan, the well-fortified LTTE garrison, has isolated the southern periphery of the Elephant Pass LTTE foothold and has also exposed the LTTE’s main fortification at Kilinochchi,” it said, adding that the LTTE strongholds Muhamalai northwards “will also be untenable for the LTTE”.
Military sources said that the battle for Paranthan and Iranaimadu began in the early hours of Tuesday when the troops backed by armour, artillery and aerial bombardment launched a concerted assault on the garrison town “while the army’s forward domination elements took on the well fortified LTTE resistance positions during surprise manoeuvres made behind enemy lines”.
Providing air cover to the ground troops, fighter jets and gunship helicopters carried out series of air raids on suspected LTTE positions during the past two weeks.
“LTTE fighting formations, mainly from the Imran-Pandiyan unit led by its Kilinochchi in-charge, had made successive attempts to gain lost ground only to be left with more casualties and damages,” a military official said.
“Troops have also cut off the vital access routes towards Paranthan along the A-9 highway from north and south, reportedly killing over 50 terrorists, while injuring twice as many numbers during the intense battles,” the sources said.
Despite shrinking territories, the LTTE has been putting up heavy resistance against the advancing troops, slowing down the military progress.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week threatened to brand the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist group if it did not allow Tamils living in its control to move to government-held areas with the dawn of 2009.
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 in escalating fighting since late 2005.
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