49 Tamil Tigers killed in Sri Lanka (Lead)May 9th, 2009 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS
Colombo, May 9 (IANS) At least 49 Tamil rebels, including 14 Sea Tigers, were killed in two clashes with Sri Lankan forces, the defence ministry said Saturday.
Two Sea Tiger boats, including an explosive-laden boat, were destroyed when the Sri Lankan Navy thwarted a “desperate attempt by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)” to attack the well fortified naval cordon in the seas off Vellemullivaikkal around 3 a.m. Saturday. Fourteen guerrillas on board were killed.
Vellemullivaikal is a coastal village in the northeastern Mullaitivu district. Sea Tigers is the naval wing of the LTTE.
Claiming that the navy has also captured two LTTE boats, including a suicide mission boat, the defence ministry said “two bodies of Sea Tiger cadres (male and female) were recovered” after the pre-dawn clash.
On the ground, the troops of the army’s 58 Division Friday evening “gained total control over the entire earth bund built by the LTTE in Karayamulliavaikkal” amid tough resistance from the rebels.
Karayamulliavaikkal and a couple of other villages are in the six sq km coastal strip where the LTTE has now been cornered.
“Fierce fighting commenced May 6 and lasted for days as terrorists made their fullest strength to hold the earth bund built to resist the security forces’ offensive march,” the statement said.
The Tamil Tigers suffered “considerable damages” during their abortive bid to hold the earth bund, it added.
“In a subsequent search operation in the area, troops have found 35 bodies of LTTE terrorists killed in fighting.”
The LTTE has been adopting the tactics of making ditch-cum-bunds around their strongholds to slow and prevent the military advances.
The military has managed to capture several LTTE strongholds, including Kilinochchi, Paranthan, Elephant Pass and Mullaitivu in the north.
According to government statistics, nearly 200,000 people have fled the war zone and are now in government-held areas. They have been temporarily housed at refugee camps and welfare centres in the northern Vavuniya town.
The LTTE led by Velupillai Prabhakaran has been fighting for over 25 years to carve out a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka.
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