LTTE suffers heavy losses, troops encircle last rebel enclave

February 22nd, 2009 - 4:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 22 (IANS) Heavy fighting that broke out between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the advancing ground troops in Sri Lanka’s northeastern Mullaitivu district has left scores of LTTE cadres killed and dozens wounded, military authorities here said Sunday.
The defence ministry said that fierce fighting erupted Saturday in the west of Puthukkudiyiruppu and east of Ampalavanpokkanai “as the counter terrorist operations entered its last phases in Mullaitivu”.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that the troops advancing from several directions have stepped up pressure on the last strongholds of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the territories held by them were shrinking day-by-day.

“The LTTE has now been confined to a land stretch of just 73 sq km. The LTTE is suffering heavy losses and the troops have recovered 65 bodies of the LTTE cadres in these areas during the past six days,” Nanayakkara told reporters Sunday.

He said that the army’s 55 and 58 Division troops and a Task Force were currently engaged in this offensive operation around Puthukkudiyiruppu areas and 11 bodies of LTTE rebels were recovered Saturday, along with a large haul of weapons.

Defence spokesman and Minister of Foreign Employment Keheliya Rambukwella said that the rebel chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and his men “are now in total disarray” after his strategy to cause maximum destruction (to the government and the armed forces) using light-wing aircraft had ended in failure.

“We believe this (plane strikes) is the last and the best weapon that the LTTE had. The abortive attempts made by these two planes Friday night proves one point - the LTTE is desperate and using its last resort,” Rambukwella said, hailing the shooting down of the LTTE planes as a major success to the country and its armed forces.

Two LTTE improvised Czech-built Zlin-143 aircraft were shot down by the military Friday night as they tried to bomb targets in Colombo.

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