LTTE pushed into 50 sq km area, claims Sri Lankan army (Lead)

March 8th, 2009 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, March 8 (IANS) Over 100 Tamil Tigers have been killed in fierce fighting with Sri Lankan forces since Friday and the rebels are now cornered in a less than 50 sq km area in Mullaitivu, defence ministry said Sunday.
Sri Lanka’s defence ministry said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), now confined to a land stretch of less than 50 sq km, have “made several desperate attempts” to infiltrate the forward defences in northeastern Mullaitivu district.

The ministry said the military has thwarted all efforts by the rebels, leaving over 100 LTTE cadres killed and as many injured since Friday dawn.

It added that the bodies of 30 rebels were recovered along with a large haul of weapons, including assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and a vehicle mounted with an anti-aircraft gun.

“The LTTE terrorists were preparing for a large-scale offensive towards the existing military defences at Palamathalan and north of Puthkkudiyiruppu, inducting over 200 cadres, including suicide bombers and Sea Tigers,” the defence ministry said.

Following the initial thrust, it said, the guerrillas have “planned to send waves of 100 odd cadres to provide reinforcements”.

Senior LTTE leaders such as “Bhanu, Lawrence, Soosai and a few other high-profile terrorists were directly involved in master-minding the pre-emptive assault”, the ministry said.

“This is for the first time during recent battles that LTTE has inducted many of its ‘high profiles’ to the battlefront.

“Yet, timely detection and precise intelligence information proved decisive as the terrorists’ offensive waves were received with intense military counter attacks,” the defence ministry said.

The ministry, however, did not say anything about the probable losses to its own troops.

There was no reaction in this regard from the rebel outfit, which has been fighting to carve out a separate state over the past quarter century.

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