Heavy casualties in Lankan offensive against LTTEOctober 19th, 2008 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS
Colombo, Oct 19 (IANS) Fierce fighting has broken out between Sri Lankan troops and the Tamil rebels in the country’s north resulting in heavy casualties on both sides, defence authorities said here Sunday.The defence ministry in a release said that the advancing troops have captured fresh territories, including well-fortified bunkers from the rebels after hours of heavy fighting on the outskirts of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) “political capital” of Kilinochchi, some 350 km north from here.
The ministry claimed that the troops have “pierced LTTE-built earth bund in Akkarayankulam, the terrorists’ last major defence in the south of Kilinochchi built up” and captured 19 heavily fortified rebel bunkers during the offensive that lasted several hours Saturday.
“According to available information, several soldiers made their ultimate sacrifice for the nation while many others suffered injuries during this battle,” the defence ministry said, adding that most of the casualties were due to booby traps, anti-personnel mines and mortar fire by the Tamil Tigers.
“Battlefield sources confirmed that the terrorists suffered a significant attrition in terms man and material… the LTTE was making a desperate attempt to retain their last major foothold on the northwestern coast of the island that gives vital life line for the terror outfit across the Palk Strait,” the ministry said.
There was no immediate reaction from the rebels in this regard.
The military is determined to capture Kilinochchi soon and the defence experts say that it would deal a major blow to the LTTE militarily and psychologically as it would corner the rebels in the northeastern Mullaitivu district.
The LTTE has been fighting for a separate state for the Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the island for the past three decades. Thousands have died in fighting between the LTTE and the military since late 2005.