Sri Lankan troops enter strategic town near Mullaitivu: Military (Lead)

January 4th, 2009 - 7:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 4 (IANS) Sri Lankan troops fighting their way towards the last major bastion of the Tamil Tiger rebels in the northeastern Mullaitivu district Sunday entered a strategic township ahead of Mullaitivu town after fierce clashes, defence authorities here said.Bolstered with confidence after retaking their main politico-administrative town of Kilinochchi two days ago, the troops backed by armour, artillery and aerial bombardment forced their way into Oddusuddan township.

“Troops of Task Force 4, who have continued their advances further northwards after capturing Nadunkeni have entered Oddusuddan township by this afternoon following the day-long fighting,” the defence ministry said.

It said that the strategically vital Oddusuddan junction located along the Mankulam-Mullaitivu (A-34) main highway had been used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) “for their administrative and logistic purposes as it has direct route access towards Mullaitivu, Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mankulam and Nedunkerni”.

“Troops are engaged in further consolidating operations in north and west of Oddusuddan areas,” the defence ministry said.

It said that air force fighter jets raided LTTE defences to assist ground troops advancing in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi fronts.

On the Kilinochchi front, the troops were now marching further northward to capture their next target on the Jaffna-Kandy A-9 main highway, the open terrain of the Elephant Pass, despite heavy LTTE resistance.

Kilinochchi town is 350 km north of here. The Elephant Pass, 12 km from Kilinochchi on the Jaffna-Kandy main highway, is the isthmus to the northern Jaffna peninsula.

A military source said the troops fighting their way further northwards from Kilinochchi and Paranthan “were just two kilometers away from the Elephant Pass and its fall is imminent”.

The fall of the Elephant Pass and Muhamalai, the last LTTE strongholds some 20 km north of the pass on the main highway, would enable the military to reopen fully the Jaffna-Kandy A-9 main supply route for public and troops.

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