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 Post subject: Sri Lanka army launches eastern push on Tigers
 Post Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 5:19 pm 
Sri Lanka army launches eastern push on Tigers

Mon Aug 28, 2006 4:34 PM IST
@ Reuters - India
By Peter Apps


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COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's army launched a new push into Tamil Tiger rebel territory in the east on Monday, while in the besieged north an air force transport plane ferried in munitions and took out the dead.

At least four soldiers were killed in Monday's fighting.

Hundreds have been killed in violence this month, the worst fighting since a 2002 truce, but so far the front lines have barely moved. But the government says it wants the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) out of the Sampur area overlooking Trincomalee harbour, 230 km northeast of Colombo.

"We have commenced a small operation to seize the area around Selvanagar, towards Sampur, around our army camp" said an army spokesman. "We don't have any intention of clearing up to Sampur. We have cleared some areas where LTTE were holding the ground."

The hospital in the nearby town of Kantale said the bodies of four dead soldiers had been received along with some 20 wounded. More than 65,000 people have died in two decades of civil war, well over 1,000 in the last year.

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Most of the fighting has been in the island's north and east, where the minority Tamils mostly live, but there have also been bomb blasts and assassinations in the capital, Colombo.

The Tigers have used the Sampur area -- which includes the southern edge of Trincomalee harbour entrance -- to shell the naval base and launch attacks on military supply convoys to Jaffna, on the northern tip of the island.

The government says it can no longer accept that.

The Tigers say they will not give up Sampur, and warned they would retaliate with all their might if the government tried to seize it. Diplomats say the government demand the rebels leave Sampur makes a return to peace talks much more difficult.

So far, the worst fighting has been in Jaffna, seen as a key Tiger goal in their fight for a separate Tamil homeland.


MUNITIONS IN, CORPSES OUT

Around 500,000 Jaffna residents are trapped by sporadic exchanges of artillery across front lines that cut off the peninsula from the rest of the island. Supply is only possible by air and sea.

A Reuters witness saw troops unload munitions from a Russian-built troop transport plane at the Palali airbase in Jaffna, loading five white body bags containing corpses and 10 wounded soldiers to be flown back to Colombo.

Troops nearby were building new underground concrete bunkers at the base, which has also come under rebel artillery fire. Aircraft skim the surface of the sea as they fly in and out to avoid Tiger fire.

Some soldiers in the east say they are sick and tired of a guerrilla war they say neither side can win, but one commanding officer flying home on leave said morale was high in the north.

"Compared with earlier parts of the war, this time our soldiers are facing the Tigers well," said battalion commander Major Kamal Pinnawala. "Most of our soldiers believe this time they will be able to repulse all the LTTE attacks."

Officials were worried that a consignment of 1,500 tonnes of emergency aid shipped north last week would soon run out.

"These food items will only last one week," said Government Agent K. Ganesh. "We are not sure when the next ship will be arranged."

Staples like vegetables have fallen in price, as farmers have not been able to transport them to government-held areas in the south for sale. But prices of goods in short supply have soared.

"I don't know how they will divide the stocks," said housewife Mary Maridas, whose carpenter husband has been out of work since the Jaffna siege began. "We are living on 1-1/2 pounds of bread a day and lentils. This is very unfortunate."


(Additional reporting by Simon Gardner in COLOMBO and Anuruddha Lokuhapuarachchi aboard a Sri Lankan Air Force Antonov)


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 Post subject: Eight killed, 41 wounded in Sri Lanka violence
 Post Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 5:21 pm 
Eight killed, 41 wounded in Sri Lanka violence

@ Zee News / 28 Aug 2006

Colombo, Aug 28: At least five soldiers and three civilians were killed and 41 wounded today in Sri Lanka's battle-torn northeast as troops mounted a fresh offensive against Tamil Tigers to offset any attack on a key naval facility.

Security forces fired artillery and mortar bombs towards Sampur, a town on the southern tip of the Koddiyar Bay in Trincomalee, which the rebels were using to hit the strategic Trincomalee naval facility.

Local military officials said four soldiers were killed while 41 others were admitted to three hospitals in the restive region. Helicopters were pressed into service for evacuating the soldiers who suffered mostly shrapnel wounds.

The naval facility is the starting point for cargo and troops travelling to the northern peninsula of Jaffna.

"The objective is to neutralise the heavy Tiger artillery pieces located at Sampur," an official said. The rebels have shelled the Trincomlee Port, the main naval base for troops in the embattled northeast and the starting point for troops and cargo headed for the northern Jaffna penninsula.

The Indian Oil Company too maintains a large storage facility in the China Bay area of Trincomalee which was also under rebel mortar attacks earlier this month.

The IOC facility was not hit, but a nearby factory was hit by Tiger artillery.

In another incident today, three civilians were killed in a mine attack that was probably meant for troops, local military officials in Trincomalee said.

A soldier was shot dead and another wounded elsewhere in the island's northern town of Vavuniya today as troops mounted the anti-Tiger drive in Trincomalee.


Bureau Report


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