B. Muralidhar Reddy
COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military on Monday claimed to have established complete domination over the western Kilinochchi battlefront. It said 33 soldiers died, 48 were injured and three missing, in the pitched battles with the LTTE, which is resisting the Army’s thrust. The LTTE has been unusually quiet on detailing its accounts of the battles and there are no precise estimates of its losses.
The military said in the mop-up operations, bodies of 11 LTTE cadre were recovered, along with large quantities of ammunition.
A Defence Ministry statement said Task Force 1 soldiers commenced mop-up operations in Vannerikulam, on the western Kilinochchi battlefront, on Monday. The Army established “total domination over the area” after months of fighting, it said, adding the area would be declared “fully liberated once the mop-up operations are completed.”
Task Force 1 and 57th Division, operating on the Kilinochchi front, are consolidating positions acquired after heavy fighting since Saturday, said the statement, adding that the 57th Division breached the last LTTE defence south of Kilinochchi on Saturday from the east and west of Akkarayankulam Tank.
The military continued its offensives in Vannerikkulam, Chinnakkonailai, Manniyakulam, and Kunachakulam areas.
Twelve soldiers were injured due to mine explosions and mortar fire. On the Vavuniya front, the Army attacked LTTE cadre in Nallikulam, Palamoddai and Puttur areas. “Troops confirmed heavy damages to the terrorists,” said the statement. On the Mullathivu front, the LTTE suffered heavy damages due to the Army’s operations in the Andankulam jungle.
The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) has appealed to Tamil Nadu’s leaders to exert pressure on the LTTE to set free Tamil civilians trapped in Kilinochchi. “The moment the LTTE opens its iron-gate, the displaced persons will move out in no time and get back to their respective homes,” said TULF President V. Anandasangaree in a letter addressed to Tamil Nadu’s leaders and its people.
He said if Tamil Nadu had any sympathy for the Tamil people suffering “under the subjugation of the LTTE, it has a moral obligation to win them [the Tamil public] the fundamental right of being able to choose the place they wish to live.”
Separately, the Defence Ministry claimed Russia had endorsed its measures against terrorism.
“This was revealed when Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa met Russian officials during a visit to Russia recently,” said the Ministry.
Mr. Rajapaksa also met Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Russia “viewed Sri Lanka’s struggle against terrorism similar to the measures taken in the past by Russia to defeat Chechnya terrorists,” it said.