B. Muralidhar Reddy

750 metric tonnes of food available

in the north

Kilinochchi battlefront active since Saturday

COLOMBO: The World Food Programme on Saturday delivered 750 metric tonnes of food to an estimated 2,30,000 civilians in the country’s north, where the military and the LTTE are engaged in battles.

The United States Office’s statement here said the convoy, consisting of staff and vehicles from a number of UN agencies, has delivered the food. It also monitored the distribution at three locations where there is a heavy concentration of civilians, before driving back to Vavuniya.

“The convoy had been forced to turn around on Thursday after heavy-weapon fire disrupted its route to the north. After receiving renewed assurances of safe passage from both parties to the conflict, the 50 trucks and nine support vehicles drove through heavy rain on Friday to reach the displaced civilians. Food is being distributed from the three locations by government agent networks,” it said.

Separately, the military said the Kilinochchi battlefront has been intensely active since Saturday as soldiers of the 57th Division “cleared the LTTE-built earth-bund from both the east and west of Akkarayankulam Tank.”

A Defence Ministry statement said soldiers have entered the remaining LTTE ‘hiding areas’ north of Akkarayankulam Tank. It further said Task Force 1 soldiers, operating south of Nachchikudha, commenced their offensive on Saturday. Simultaneously, soldiers are continuing to maintain their southward thrust from Pallawarayankaddu south.

“At present, Task Force 1 soldiers have cut off all land access routes available for the terrorists trapped in their Nachchikudha stronghold. Troops manning the blockades in Nachhcikudaha have thwarted two LTTE reinforcement attempts this morning,” it said.

The Ministry said soldiers attacked 25 LTTE cadre near Pallawarayankaddu and another group in Madam. “Intercepted radio transmissions revealed that terrorist leader Bhanu has abandoned his position on the western half of the Kilinochchi front. According to sources, Bhanu was in charge of the LTTE defence against the Task Force 1. The terrorist leader has repositioned himself in LTTE hiding areas south of Kilinochchi,” it said.

Meanwhile, helicopter gun-ships attacked ‘LTTE resistance points’ 1.5 km north of Akkarayankulam on Saturday.

Air Force spokesperson Janaka Nanayakkara said the missions were carried out to support the Army’s 57th Division, which is now in a commanding position north of Akkarayankulam Tank.