Sri Lankan highway opened for traffic after 24 yearsMarch 2nd, 2009 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS
Colombo, March 2 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s northern highway that links Jaffna peninsula to the rest of the island was opened Monday for military traffic after 24 long years, military sources said.
Two convoys of soldiers - one group going home on leave from Jaffna and the other going to Jaffna after finishing leave - met each other on the way and exchanged greetings on the A-9 Jaffna-Kandy highway.
“Forty lorries carrying troops for Anuradhapura and Jaffna met each other on the way,” a military source said Monday.
Authorities said the highway would open for public when the landmines in the former Tamil Tiger area are cleared and the roads reconstructed.
The government also plans to resume the lucrative railway service to the country’s north. Trains from Colombo now ply only up to Vavuniya town, which is located far south of Jaffna.
Overland supplies to over 40,000 troops in Jaffna peninsula remained cut off for 24 years as some 75 km stretch of the highway was in areas held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The troops in Jaffna would no longer be relying on supplies through air and sea routes.
The highway had been briefly opened for civil movement after the February 2002 Norway-brokered ceasefire agreement between Colombo and the LTTE.
Holding control of the road between Omanthai in Vavuniya district and Muhamalai in Jaffna district, the guerrillas imposed tax on passengers and goods going through the highway, making millions of rupees daily.
The opening of the route became possible after former rebel strongholds along the highway, including Mankulam, Kilinochchi, Paranthan and Elephant Pass, were recaptured after months of fierce fighting since the dawn of 2009.
According to the military, the rebels, who once presided over major parts of the north and east till 2006, are now cornered in a stretch of land measuring about 50 square km in Mullaitivu district.
- Sri Lanka troops, LTTE rebels clash in Jaffna peninsula - Dec 06, 2008
- Sri Lankan troops enter strategic town near Mullaitivu: Military (Lead) - Jan 04, 2009
- Expand to war-torn north, Sri Lankan businesses urged - Mar 30, 2009
- After Kilinochchi, fall of Elephant Pass imminent: Military - Jan 04, 2009
- Sri Lankan troops capture LTTE airstrip in Mullaitivu - Jan 10, 2009
- Sri Lankan troops capture Elephant Pass (Lead) - Jan 09, 2009
- Troops capture strategic LTTE bastion: Sri Lanka - Nov 17, 2008
- Sri Lankan troops poised to capture Elephant Pass - Jan 09, 2009
- Lankan troops retake villages close to Elephant Pass (Lead) - Jan 05, 2009
- Rajapaksa invites India to help rebuild railway line - Mar 23, 2009
- LTTE garrison town captured by army: Sri Lanka (Lead) - Jan 01, 2009
- Lankan troops enter southern end of Elephant Pass: official - Jan 05, 2009
- Sri Lanka releases 100 LTTE rebels held in military-run camps - Dec 26, 2010
- Troops overrun key LTTE defences, capture Palai town - Jan 08, 2009
- Fall of LTTE's political hub of Kilinochchi inevitable: Sri Lanka (Second Lead) - Jan 01, 2009
Tags: anuradhapura, ceasefire agreement, convoys, elephant pass, fierce fighting, guerrillas, landmines, liberation tigers of tamil eelam, liberation tigers of tamil eelam ltte, lorries, military source, military sources, military traffic, muhamalai, railway service, rupees, sea routes, sri lankan, strongholds, tamil tiger