B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military on Monday claimed “steady battle progress” at Kilinochchi and Mullathivu on the Wanni battlefront amid multiple aerial raids on “identified” LTTE targets.

The Defence Ministry said here security forces were engaged in the “final battles” for the LTTE’s remaining major garrison townships. Fighting was reported on the outskirts of Paranthan, Kilinochchi and Mullathivu.

The Ministry claimed that troops had commenced marching towards Periya-Paranthan village along the B-69 main and were positioned approximately four km from the LTTE garrison at Paranthan.

It said the troops had captured the heavily-fortified LTTE built earthbund cum ditch from the Jaffna lagoon to Adampan village. It said the troops advancing on two major fronts towards Mullathivu had come across “stiff LTTE resistance” on the outskirts of the Nanthikadal lagoon. A few soldiers have gone missing during the confrontations, it said.

Separately, fighter jets carried out four “successive” raids targeting LTTE positions in Kilinochchi. According to Air Force spokesperson Janaka Nanayakkara, two sorties targeted LTTE resistance points west of Kilinochchi in support of the troops heading towards the LTTE heartland, Kilinochchi.

The pro-LTTE TamilNet claimed that an Identity Card recovered from a soldier’s body revealed that he was aged 17. He died in the offensive in Mullathivu district on Saturday. The military termed the report as propaganda and said the armed forces did not employ anybody below 18.