Sri Lanka steps up attacks on LTTE after taking rebel headquarters

January 3rd, 2009 - 7:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 3 (IANS) Sri Lanka pressed ahead with its air and ground assaults against the Tamil Tiger rebels Saturday, a day after seizing control of the guerrillas’ political hub Kilinochchi, defence sources said.The military sources said the troops while consolidating their newly captured positions in Kilinochchi town, lying 350 km north of here, advanced further into the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) stronghold.

The defence ministry said the battle for Mullaitivu has already begun and the advancing troops “have positioned themselves just five km south of Mullaitivu and three km south of LTTE’s main airstrip”.

It said that pitched battles had erupted in general area north of Kumulamunai, in the north-eastern Mullaitivu district with combined air and ground assaults on “concentrated LTTE positions and artillery launching pads”.

“Troops of the 59 Division are now surging in multiple fronts towards LTTE’s coastal garrison at Mullaitivu, reportedly killing over two dozen of LTTE terrorists and injuring similar numbers,” the defence ministry said.

It said the fighter jets “made precision air strikes at LTTE’s main sea Tiger base”, located in the coastal stretch of the Mullaitivu lagoon around 2.10 p.m. Saturday.

“Air observation images have confirmed terrorists fleeing into deeper jungles of Mullaitivu in total disarray,” the defence ministry said, adding that MI-24 gunship helicopters have undertaken close combat air support assaults at identified LTTE positions along the Paranthan-Mullaitivu road.

Sri Lankan troops Friday captured the Tamil Tiger rebels’ de facto political capital of Kilinochchi after months of fierce fighting, dealing a major blow to the rebels.

Announcing the military seizure of the rebel stronghold, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said Friday the capture of Kilinochchi “is the unparalleled victory of the entire nation”.

The LTTE is yet to comment on their defeat in Kilinochchi.

The LTTE 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 since late 2005 in the escalating fight.

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