More LTTE strongholds captured after pre-dawn attack: Sri Lanka

April 28th, 2009 - 9:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, April 28 (IANS) Troops forcing their way deep into the last Tamil Tiger stronghold in the northeastern Mullaitivu district have captured “two heavily fortified defence positions” after launching pre-dawn attacks, defence ministry said Tuesday.
“58 and 53 Division infantrymen have gained total control over two LTTE-built earth-bunds located south and southwest of Valayarmadam. 58 Division troops advanced southwards from Valayarmadam and gained control over a 600 metre-long LTTE-built earth-bund, running across the coast from west to east,” it said.

The fresh military gains have come a day after the government ordered its troops “to stop using heavy guns, aerial weapons and combat aircraft” in its future operations in the north to ensure the safety of civilians.

The government said this decision was an exhibit “of its grave concern to avoid any form of collateral damage while surging into the remaining 10 sq km swathe of coast, south of Valayarmadam and Vellamullivaikkal” in Mullaitivu district.

The government made it clear that the decision was not a reaction to any “international pressure but solely timed with the success of the ongoing “world’s largest hostage rescue operation” to release thousands of civilians held hostage by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The defence ministry said LTTE guerrilas “have put up heavy resistance to stall the two frontal military advances before fleeing further south, towards Mullivaikkal”.

The earth-bunds were heavily mined, made to restrict both outflow of the remaining hostages and military advances, a defence official was quoted as saying Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Alok Prasad made an “inspection visit” to Pulmoddai in the eastern port city of Trincomalee where a 61-member Indian medical team has been treating the wounded civilians fleeing the northern war-zone over the past two months.

The high commissioner who flew to Pulmoddai interacted with the Indian medical team and inquired about their service to the people and the facilities available.

According to a Sri Lankan government official, Indian medical facility is likely to be expanded or relocated to the northern town of Vavuniya to assist local authorities in providing medical facilities to the war-displaced people, mainly after the mass exodus of people fleeing the war-zone since last week.

“However, a final decision in this regard was yet to be taken,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

The high commissioner is scheduled to officially hand over the Indian donation of 40,000 family packs to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Wednesday to be distributed among the civilians affected by the conflict.

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