LTTE’s last Sea Tiger base captured: Sri Lanka (Lead)

February 5th, 2009 - 10:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 5 (IANS) Further tightening their stranglehold on the depleted Tamil Tigers, Sri Lankan troops Thursday dealt yet another blow to the rebels by capturing their last Sea Tiger base at Chalai on the island’s east coast, the military here said. It said 55 Division troops “rolled onto the biggest Sea Tiger base in Chalai coastal isthmus by Thursday evening and brought the entire area under their control”.

“Chalai’s total seizure came hot on the heels of the army’s complete liberation of the entire Vishwamadhu area, about 100 sq km in extent, in the former Tiger stronghold after a string of military offensives in the past few days,” the military said, adding that the rebels were now boxed into an area of less than some 200 sq km.

The military said that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was “now in its death throes with the loss of the biggest Sea Tiger Base in the eastern coastal belt, which was excessively used by suicidal Sea Tigers for their numerous ground attacks, naval attacks and also for almost all clandestine terrorist operations”.

The military last December completed its capture of the entire western coastal belt from the rebels from the north-western Mannar upto Pooneryn.

According to the military, the troops, before surging into Chalai, “successfully and effectively struck and captured all Sea Tiger bases along the northeastern and the eastern coast” such as in Chundikkulam, Kaddaikadu, Chempiyanpattu, Mullaitivu, Vadduval, Chemmalai, and Alampil within a matter of a year or so.

“As of Thursday evening, army troops in the south of Puthukkudiyiruppu are now poised to march on to Tiger-dominated areas, surrounding the newly demarcated ‘Safe Zone’ in Puthukkudiyiruppu west, adjoining the A-35 Paranthan-Mullaitivu road,” the military said.

It earlier said at least 12 Sea Tigers, including the wing’s deputy leader known as Vinayagam, were killed in fierce fighting Wednesday.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake said the government was prepared to offer an amnesty to the Tamil Tiger rebels who lay down arms and surrender to government forces.

“There are reports that groups of people who took part in terrorist activities in the north are ready to give themselves up. It is a wise decision and we are ready to welcome them,” the prime minister told parliament Thursday during the debate for extension of emergency regulations.

He, however, did not give details about the terms of the proposed amnesty.

Although the prime minister made no references to the top leadership of the LTTE, senior officials have made it clear that there can be no pardon for LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and his main lieutenants.

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