B. Muralidhar Reddy

Tigers cornered now in 21.5 sq km; eight militants killed and 17 wounded

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military on Sunday claimed that it had taken control of the last supply route of the LTTE in Mullaithivu district.

The Tigers are cornered now in 21.5 sq km, including 20 sq km declared by the government as “no fire zone” to enable the stranded civilians to escape.

The Defence Ministry said troops advancing further east from Puthukkudiyirippu seized control over the LTTE supply route that stretched towards Iranapalai after hours of fierce fighting.

“The dominance by security forces over this vital stretch of the remaining LTTE supply route is expected to frustrate movement and logistic supply of terrorists,” it said.

The troops breached the LTTE defences and gained control over an earth bund-cum-ditch north of Palamathalan. The militants did not offer much resistance and fled.

At least eight Tiger cadre were killed and 17 wounded.

“Terrorists are continuously mounting heavy artillery and mortar attacks from the government-declared ‘no fire zone’, and this has been the only response the losing terrorists could give, avoiding direct engagement with the military.”

The military said 258 civilians, who were forcibly kept by the LTTE as human shield, were able to reach the government-controlled area. So far, over 56,000 civilians managed to cross over.

An estimated 50,000 civilians are still believed to be stranded in the LTTE-held territory.

The government sent another consignment of food and medicines for the civilians, who are forcibly held by the LTTE in the “no fire zone.”

In a statement, the government said the stock of 1,200 tonnes was shipped after a directive from President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Two ships carried rice, flour, sugar, dhal, palm oil, milk food and medicine.

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