Week-long felicitation to mark Sri Lankan military victoriesNovember 15th, 2008 - 11:51 pm ICT by IANS
Colombo, Nov 15 (IANS) Sri Lanka Saturday announced a week-long felicitation to mark island-wide the victories of the security forces, who captured the last major naval bastion of Tamil Tiger rebels in the north after 15 long years.”Our soldiers have captured the strategically important Pooneryn in the north from the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) after several years and registered a major victory. We expect to honour our security forces and declare this week felicitate the victories of our heroic soldiers against terrorism,” general secretary of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Maithripala Sirisena told reporters.
Saying this commemorative week would commence from Sunday, Sirisena said the government planned to hold several events for the seven days in light of the latest military victory.
“Everyone should celebrate this victory in their work places and organisations by hoisting the national flag Monday in order to strengthen our security forces and encourage them to win more battles in the future,” Sirisena said.
The defence ministry said the advancing government troops, backed by artillery bombardment, captured the Tamil Tiger rebels’ major naval bastion of Pooneryn in the island’s north in the early hours of Saturday.
“Task Force-1 troops having liberated Pooneryn are now engaged in mop-up operations in the Pooneryn salient. Troops are now clearing their way towards Kalmunai Point (K-Point) along the 20 km long narrow land stretch where the LTTE terrorists used to station their artillery and mortar batteries,” the defence ministry said.
Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, commenting on the latest military victory, said Saturday the whole stretch of A-32 road from Mannar to Pooneryn has been liberated and his troops have now opened a land route to the northern Jaffna peninsula with the capture of Pooneryn bastion from the LTTE.
“We have eliminated a large number of terrorists during this battle. The remaining terrorists are now running for their lives across the Kilali lagoon,” the defence ministry quoted the army chief as saying.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, in a televised address to the nation Saturday morning announced the capture of Pooneryn and urged the rebel leadership “to lay down their weapons and come for talks”.
There was no immediate word from the LTTE regarding the latest developments.