28 rebels killed, LTTE vehicles recovered: Sri Lanka

February 12th, 2009 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 12 (IANS) Advancing further into the last pockets of territory controlled by the Tamil Tigers, troops have fought fierce battles with the rebels, killing at least 28 guerrillas in the northeastern Mullaitivu district, Sri Lanka’s defence ministry said Thursday.
It said the troops of the army’s 58 Division operating in the north of the A-35 highway that links Paranthan to the jungle district of Mullaitivu have made “significant gains” on the battleground since last week.

“Snipers deployed in the forward areas confirmed shooting down 23 terrorists at various locations during daytime,” the ministry said, adding that five rebels were killed in separate clashes.

It said the troops captured a “highly fortified” camp of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at Sinnavillu area Wednesday, and a large haul of weapons including four 120 mm mortar guns and two 81 mm mortar guns were recovered in the subsequent search operation.

The troops have also recovered a couple of vehicles believed to have been used by the top LTTE leaders.

The ministry website carried photographs of an armour-plated (improvised) van used by the LTTE to transport its leaders within Wanni.

The state-run television, showing the footage of the vehicle, said that elusive rebel chief Velupillai Prabhakaran had used this van when he attended the press conference he held in April 2002, a couple of months after the signing of the Norway-brokered ceasefire agreement.

The ministry also carried photographs of a camouflaged Pajero super-luxury vehicle suspected to have been used by Prabhakaran.

It said that the same vehicle was believed to have been used by the LTTE chief to receive his ex-political adviser Anton Balasingham and his wife Adale Balasingham, who visited Wanni in 2001 using a sea plane that landed in the Iranaimadhu tank.

Separately, Thamaraikulam area in Mullaitivu district had day-long clashes with the LTTE and inflicted heavy damage to the rebels. Thamarankulam is a about five km north of the A-35 highway and three km west of Chalai lagoon.

The 58 Division troops Wednesday captured an LTTE printing press and the mortar bomb-manufacturing factory at Suthanthirapuram area.

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