B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s military on Saturday claimed to have captured Vellankulam town, the LTTE’ last stronghold in Mannar district in the north.

A Defence Ministry statement said following fierce battles over the past few days, soldiers advanced into Vellankulam town area “despite the stiff resistance given by the terrorists to protect the strategically-important build-up area,” which links the western coast and Mankulam with a direct supply route via Tunukkai and Mallavi.

At least 30 LTTE cadre were killed and the remaining terrorists used sea routes to withdraw, it added.

Pro-LTTE TamilNet claimed the LTTE’s defensive formations at Mallaavi on Friday thwarted a three-pronged offensive, which was launched from Vavunikku’lam and Paalaiyadi, targeting Mallaavi.

It said: “At least 30 soldiers were killed and more than 60 sustained injuries in fighting, according to the Tigers. Three bodies of soldiers were also recovered by the Tigers.”