Sri Lankan military battle tank destroyed in north: LTTE

April 22nd, 2008 - 7:00 pm ICT by admin  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, April 22 (IANS) The Tamil Tiger rebels Tuesday claimed to have destroyed a main battle tank of the Sri Lankan Army during a clash with advancing government troops close to their forward defences in the northern Jaffna peninsula. “A Sri Lankan Army tank was fully destroyed at Muhamalai Forward Defence Line (FDL) Tuesday morning around 7.30 a.m. when Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) anti-tank unit confronted the army soldiers who attempted to break the Tiger FDL,” pro-LTTE Tamilnet website reported, quoting LTTE sources.

“The Sri Lankan Army has sustained heavy casualties in Muhamalai,” the Tigers said, giving no details of their own casualty figures.

The LTTE’s fresh claim comes in the wake of escalating clashes between the advancing government troops and the fighting formations of the LTTE in the northern Wanni, Jaffna and northwestern Mannar region, leaving thousands of combatants killed and wounded over the past year.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, however, denied the latest claims by the rebels and said that “the military have never used battle tanks in these areas”.

“We have not lost any battle tanks in the north today and there is no truth in what the LTTE is saying. We use only infantrymen in these areas to fight the Tigers,” Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said by phone.

Nanayakkara also said there were no “extra-ordinary military activities in the Muhamalai areas other than the routine sporadic clashes”.

Reporting a separate incident, the defence ministry claimed that the advancing “troops have captured an LTTE stronghold called ‘Lima Base - 3′ located at east of Kattankulam in Mannar during a pre-dawn onslaught Monday.

“Seven LTTE terrorists were killed while others received injuries due to this surprise attack launched around 4.35 a.m. Monday….One soldier was killed and eight soldiers suffered injuries in this confrontation,” the ministry report said.

But the rebels refuted the military claims and said that they had thwarted a major two-pronged assault by the army in Mannar Monday, killing seven soldiers and wounding 21.

The rebels again did not give details of the damage they suffered.

Independent verifications on the casualties are not possible as journalists are barred from visiting the battlefront.

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