Sri Lankan army seizes strategic LTTE strongholdNovember 13th, 2008 - 4:10 pm ICT by IANS
Colombo, Nov 13 (IANS) The Sri Lankan Army announced Thursday that it had captured a strategically important coastal village along the western coast from Tamil Tiger guerrillas after overcoming fierce resistance.The army said that the triangular Devil’s Point, lying to the west of the Mannar-Pooneryn coastal road, was brought under its control after days of fierce clashes with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
“The Devil’s Point, one of the most anticipated targets of the security forces in the extreme west of Kilinochchi district, was freed from terrorists, consequential upon a chain of pitched battles,” the military said.
It said the Devil’s Point and the adjoining fishing village of Valaipadu were “of strategic value to the enemy” and it served as one of the leading Sea Tiger training bases ever since the Tigers captured those areas from the military in the early 1990s and “has been of a symbol of prestige and military power right throughout for the terrorist cause”.
The LTTE had used this coastal harbour-type camp to mount many attacks on naval vessels and ground troops using explosive-laden boats.
“Simultaneously, this pearl-rich area remained an oasis for smuggling of arms and ammunition, explosives and contraband because it is a quite close sea route to southern India,” the military said.
“The fall of Devil’s Point makes the land stretch along the A-32 road now free of terrorists, enabling the troops to march further up towards the LTTE stronghold Pooneryn,” the military report said.
There was no immediate reaction from the LTTE. But a pro-rebel website quoted rebel sources as saying that the advancing government troops suffered heavy damages when the rebels mounted fierce resistance.
The fresh military claims came during a month the Tigers commemorate their fallen fighters with week-long events that culminates with an annual speech by LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.
The LTTE has been fighting against the Sri Lankan government to carve out a separate state for Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the island for a quarter century.
Sri Lankan troops have vowed to capture the rebels’ de facto capital Kilinochchi town, about 350 km from Colombo. Thousands have died and many more have been displaced in the Sri Lankan conflict since late 2005.