Troops poised to capture last LTTE township: Sri Lanka

February 20th, 2009 - 5:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 20 (IANS) Sri Lankan troops have encircled the last township still held by the gasping Tamil Tigers, the authorities said Friday.
The defence ministry said the army’s 58 Division was locked in heavy fighting with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in areas around Puthukkudiyiruppu town in Mullaitivu district.

The soldiers have recovered three bodies of dead guerrillas, seven T-56 assault rifles and three radio communication sets.

Puthukkudiyiruppu is located about 35 km east of Paranthan town on a highway leading to Mullaitivu town, which is already under military control.

The LTTE is now left in control of only a small land area in Mullaitivu district, once its military nerve centre. According to military sources, the built-up area with the LTTE measures just about 25 square km.

“The 58 Division are in the process of dominating Ampalavanpokkani area, just two kilometres from the northern parameters of the Puthukkuddiyiruppu (township),” the defence ministry said.

The troops advancing from other directions were also approaching steadily towards the town despite heavy resistance.

The fall of Puthukkudiyiruppu would be a major blow for the Tigers, who have been cornered in an area of less than 100 square km after losing control of the eastern and other parts of the northern provinces to the military since 2007.

A group of soldiers also stumbled upon underwater scooters, diving kits, oxygen cylinders and other diving equipments from west of Puthukudiyiruppu area Thursday.

“Two underwater scooters, oxygen cylinders, modern diving kits, sniper weapon and many other diving equipment were uncovered,” the ministry said.

The LTTE in an e-mail statement to the media claimed that 34 civilians were killed and scores, including children, were injured in morning shelling Thursday at Iranaipalai and Puthukkudiyiruppu areas.

Military sources denied the rebel claim and accused the LTTE of holding thousands of civilians as human shield to delay the military advance that has put the once awesome insurgent group on the run.

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