B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military on Tuesday claimed that troops operating in the western half of the Kilinochchi battle front reached a decisive stage in their mission and successfully sealed off over 90 per cent of the 80-km long northwestern coast of the island.

Following the recent liberation of Nachchikuda, the Task Force 1 now has continuous domination over 70 km stretch of the strategically vital Mannar- Pooneryn [A-32] road. According to the battlefield reports received so far, the Task Force 1 is now on an accelerated march towards Poonaryn, crushing remaining terrorist footholds on the northwestern coast, said the Defence Ministry.

It said heavy confrontations were reported from the Palayilkulam area throughout Monday as the Tiger cadres were making a desperate attempt to slowdown the advancing soldiers.

During the morning hours, Army Commandos attacked a group of LTTE cadres in the Ponnaveli area inflicting heavy damages to the terrorists. Meanwhile, Army Special Forces soldiers ambushed a group of LTTE cadres travelling on a tractor in the Uruthirapuram area in the afternoon hours, causing heavy damages to the terrorists. Separate clashes were also reported from the Mukkamvillu area during the day.

The Ministry said intercepted LTTE radio transmissions had revealed that senior terrorist leader Ilakoon was killed during the confrontation in the Navalladi area, on Sunday. He was a self-styled Lieutenant Colonel of the LTTE and a member of the ground fighters of the Sea Tigers.

It said, According to ground troops, LTTE terrorists have put-on stiff resistance initially and later abandoned its defences after receiving heavy beating in the duel.

The military said troops were moving inside the LTTE territory amid desperate attempts by the outfit to hold the strategically important terrain in Wanni. Terrorists are expected to receive a double blow at the Eastern Kilinochchi battlefront, west of the A-9 trunk road with the fall of Akkarayankulam Northern built-up and Terumurikandy.

The Defence Ministry alleged that faced with the intense multi-pronged military assaults LTTE has drawn in hundreds of underage fighters, sparing senior cadres to defend its Kilinochchi heartland.