B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan Defence Ministry, which on Sunday claimed it had gained total control over Puthukkudiyirippu, said troops were now positioned to make tactical moves into the remaining territory to free civilians held hostage by LTTE.

The Ministry said troops has located over 140 LTTE bodies scattered ahead of the battlefront east of Puthukkudiyirippu. “LTTE’s intelligence wing leader Pottu Amman, Theepan and Bhanu have led the LTTE fighting formations while, ground sources citing intercepted enemy communication said that Bhanu have sustained injuries during fighting,” it said.

It said LTTE’s “artillery wing” head Manniwannan was killed in the fighting on Sunday and claimed, on that basis of “intercepted LTTE communication” that Adithyan, LTTE’s former in-charge of Welioya, was also among the dead.

The Ministry further claimed that LTTE’s shadow chief cum intelligence wing head Pottu Amman broke into tears and apologised to cadre confined to the “No-Fire Zone” and “facing annihilation” from the Sri Lankan security forces.

“Forgive me. This is it. Everything is beyond my control,” he was quoted as saying in reply for the constant appeals made by the trapped terrorists for reinforcements. Presumably, the Ministry claim on Pottu Amman is also based on intercepted communication.

The Ministry maintained that the troops had asked the trapped LTTE cadre to surrender before launching the military onslaught against them. “We called them to surrender via their [LTTE] radio frequencies, but they were ordered to fight to their death by the LTTE leadership,” the Defence Ministry website quoted a senior ground commander as saying.

Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to the Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader V. Anandasangaree urged him to request the United Nations to intervene and ensure the safety of the trapped civilians.

“The first option the government had was to fight to the last. Now on the last lap of the war fighting with bomb, shelling and artillery attacks will result in very large number of casualties. If ship transportation of food and drugs is blocked it will result in people dying of starvation,” the letter said.

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