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Final siege on Tigers has begun - Sri Lanka
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Author:  Guest [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Final siege on Tigers has begun - Sri Lanka

Final siege on Tigers has begun - Sri Lanka

The troops of 59 Division began the operation one year ago, fought their way through 40 km of thick jungles from Weli-Oya to fully capture the Mullaitivu town, lying across the Nanthikkadal lagoon. Brigadier Nandana Udawatte, who commandeered the 59 Division troops that captured the Mullaitivu town, said the LTTE had put up three rings of defence lines around the town and were fiercely resisting frontal assaults of the troops.

@ IANS / Agencies - Tuesday, January 27, 2009

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Sri Lankan Army soldier stands guard in an abandoned building, as the logo of LTTE is seen in the background, in the newly recaptured Tamil rebel-held town of Mullaittivu. Photo from AP by Gemunu Amarasinghe

Sri Lankan troops are busy building fresh bunkers and consolidating their newly established positions in Mullaitivu town, which they captured from the Tamil Tiger rebels Sunday after 12 years. After capturing Mullaitivu, the military nerve centre of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) the troops have begun laying what they called “the final siege” on the rebels. The guerrillas were offering desperate resistance to the advancing troops despite shrinking territories.

The authorities said that with the seizure of Mullaitivu Sunday, “all seven offensive elements of the Sri Lanka Army are now sweeping up remaining LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) pockets towards the northeastern coast of the island.

“The troops of the army’s 55 Division marching down the coast towards Chalai lagoon gained considerable ground. Chalai remains the last stronghold of the Sea Tigers where defence observers expect the terrorists to fight their final battles,” said the ministry.

“The troops deployed in the northern section of the front are heading towards Chalai to link up with 55 Division while those in southern section are manoeuvring towards Vishwamadhu with the 57 Division,” it said, giving a detailed account of a number of clashes with the rebels Sunday.

According to defence sources, heavy fighting raged throughout Sunday when the LTTE made several attempts to breach the newly established forward boundary of the army in these areas.

“Troops successfully thwarted all these attempts. Both radio monitoring reports and ground sources confirmed heavy damages to the terrorists. Troops too sustained damages,” a source said, adding that the soldiers have completed their mopping up operations and were preparing to advance further.

According to some reports, the LTTE is now confined to Puthukkudiyiruppu and Vishwamadhu, which remain under immense pressure from the advancing troops.

The army last controlled the army camp in Mullaitivu in 1996 when the Tigers overran it in July, slaughtering over 1,000 soldiers and capturing a huge haul of weapons including long range artillery and mortars.

The troops of 59 Division began the operation one year ago, fought their way through 40 km of thick jungles from Weli-Oya to fully capture the Mullaitivu town, lying across the Nanthikkadal lagoon.

Brigadier Nandana Udawatte, who commandeered the 59 Division troops that captured the Mullaitivu town, said the LTTE had put up three rings of defence lines around the town and were fiercely resisting frontal assaults of the troops.

“While keeping up pressure from south, we used boats to cross the lagoon and launched a surprise attack that made the rebels retreat with heavy damages,” Brigadier Udawatte told visiting journalists.

Although the soldiers manning the former LTTE bastion looked relaxed, a group of foreign and local journalists flown from Colombo could hear heavy artillery gunfire exchange in the distance.

“Beyond a causeway just north of here is where the LTTE is holding their forward defence positions now. The exchange of firing you hear is taking place about two to three kilometers away from where we are,” a soldier of the Army’s 59 Division said.

Most of the buildings bear the battle scars while the town’s power station stood empty, without its roof.

Velupillai Prabhakaran, who founded the LTTE in 1976, is known to have deep and seemingly secure underground caves and bunkers in the dense forests of Mullaitivu, from where he oversaw the war against Indian troops in Sri Lanka in 1987-90.

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