|Eelam War IV - Northern Theater - Progress Report - Part 5
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|Author:||Guest [ Fri Nov 21, 2008 6:29 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Eelam War IV - Northern Theater - Progress Report - Part 5|
Eelam War IV - Northern Theater - Progress Report - Part 5
READ ALSO || PART 1 || PART 2 || PART 3 || || PART 4 ||
Tigers run out of options as Forces advance on all fronts
Pooneryn, Mankulam, Kumulamunai and Muhamalai in Forces’ hands
Gateway to Elephant Pass opened
Sri Lanka’s military offensive against LTTE is rapidly moving towards an end with the capture of the biggest LTTE defence complexes in the northern theatre. The 800-metre-long and eight-kilometre-wide ‘defended area’ from Kilaly to Nagarkovil collapsed at about 5 a.m. yesterday following a week-long assault carried out by 53 and 55 Divisions.The capture of Pooneryn came at a time the LTTE was focusing on Kilinochchi the de-facto capital of the illusionary Tamil homeland. with the capture of the entire Western coast under Security Forces control, for the first time the Security Forces have been able to confine the LTTE to the Eastern part of the country.
Friday, November 21, 2008
52 LTTE militants killed, airstrip falls to army: Officials
The troops of the 53 Division under Brigadier Kamal Gunaratne and 55 Division under Brigadier Prasanna Silva, operating in the Jaffna Forward Defence Lines in Muhamalai and Kilali yesterday took full control of the heavily fortified LTTE’s first defence lines north and south of the A-9 road after five days of fighting and inflicting heavy damage to the LTTE, Military officials told. Troops have advanced some 500 to 800 meters from the original defence line of the Security Forces to hit the first defence line of the LTTE.
The forward elements of the 5 and 6 Vijayaba Infantry Regiments, 6 Gajaba Regiment and 6 Sinha Regiment troops from the 53 Division moved into the LTTE first defence line in Muhamalai when the operation to capture Muhamalai and Kilali Defence line was launched last Saturday with the capture of Pooneryn. At the initial stages of the operation, the Security Forces faced stiff resistance from the LTTE from their artillery guns positioned in Soranpattue area.
According to military sources more than 50 Tiger dead bodies were seen scattered ahead of the Tiger FDL and they believe more than 75 Tiger cadres perished in the ensuing battles in Muhamalai and Kilali. The Army lost about 30 officers and men in action.
“The troops are now controlling the eight Kilometres long Tiger first Defence line from Kadolana area north of A-9 road to Kilali, south of the A-9 road,” the army said.
With the breaching of the Tigers' Jaffna defence line, Sri Lankan forces have now mounted a two-pronged fresh offencive on the Tiger headquarters of Kilinochchi from the south and the north.
Three earlier attempts made by the 53 and 55 Divisions to overrun the LTTE-held area had ended disastrously with the army losing almost 400 officers and men and several hundred wounded. Of them, the first offensive had caused most of the losses with the Air Mobile Brigade being the worst affected.
The fall of Pooneryn
The fall of Pooneryn came after troops of the 58 Division captured a section of the Pooneryn-Paranthan road by early hours of last Saturday.
Two battalions of the Commando Brigade 2 Commando Regiment and the 3 Commando Regiment took the lead in this operation to clear the area of the LTTE and for the infantry troops to hold the area.Read More
The 58 Division which was initially formed as the Task Force I has reached the peak of their victories with the capture of Pooneryn. As of yesterday they were operating some six Kilometres West of Paranthan and faced yet another 10 to 11 Kilometres long earth bund located west of A-9 road, covering Kilinochchi town and A9-road.
The 58 Division now marching towards Paranthan has captured one of the LTTE airstrips located in the Nivil area, Pooneryn on 20th of Nov. According to the defence sources, the airstrip is about 200m in length.
Eighteen bodies of LTTE terrorists killed during recent battle in the Mannar and Vavuniya area were handed over to the ICRC officials in Vavuniya in the afternoon of 19 November.
The capture of Mankulam
It was just 3 days after the capture of Pooneryn the troops of the newly formed Task Force III under the command of Brigadier Satyapriya Liyanage reached another success. Task Force III launched their military operation from the North West of Mankulam hit the A-9 road in Panikkankulam area and then commenced their North to South advance along the A-9 road last week.
19 Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment and 16 Gajaba Regiment troops of the 631 Brigade under Lt. Colonel Priyantha Perera reached Mankulam junction after cutting off Olumadu junction on the Mankulam Mullaitivu road on Monday. Heavy fighting erupted in Mankulam junction on Monday as the LTTE offered stiff resistance to the advancing troops.
The capture of Kumulamunai
The 59 Division under Brigadier Nandana Udawatta operating in the South of Mullaitivu captured the strategically important Kulmulamunai village. It was the 593 Brigade under the command of Colonel Jayantha Gunaratne that advanced into the Kumulamunai village last week. The 11 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Priyanka Fernanado was holding a part of the village by last week and the 7 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Chaminda Lamaheva moved in to the village from the west. By Monday morning they were in full control of the village and captured three Tiger bodies after conducting clearing operations. With the capture of the Kumulamunai village troops are in a position to strike north of Mullaitivu.
After the capture of Kumulamunai troops are now poised to capture Mulliyavali village and enter into the Nagacholai forest reserve west of Mullaitivu and also towards Alampil where the LTTE has a major Sea Tiger base.
|Author:||Guest [ Tue Nov 25, 2008 7:28 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Forces kill scores of LTTE cadres near Jaffna|
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Forces kill scores of LTTE cadres near Jaffna
Stepping up the momentum of their advance to capture Kilinochchi, Sri Lankan troops on Tuesday claimed to have killed scores of rebels after smashing through a string of rebel bunkers. Troops of the 53rd division, advancing from the Kilaly near Jaffna carried out the ambush on Tuesday morning, a defence ministry official said.
Advancing from the south, troops on Tuesday marched into Olumadu in Mullaittivu district, in the pouring rain. Olumadu is located 4 km northeast of Mankulam on the Mankulam-Mullaittivu highway and falls in the area just on the outskirts of Kilinochchi.
"Soldiers are trying to negotiate the earth bund (mound) south of Kilinochchi, and are probing the defences," military spokesman said. Units are 5 km northwest of Kilinochchi, and less than 2 km southwest of the town, he said. Soldiers on patrol killed four LTTE in Horowpatuna today, a northern area away from the battlefront, he further added.
Meanwhile, intercepted radio transmissions have revealed that a senior LTTE leader called Stanley was killed during recent battle. The sources said that heavy fighting was going on at three fronts outside Kilinochchi.
Ending weeks of silence on battlefield casualties, the ministry said Tamil Tiger rebels had put up stiff resistance as security forces approached Kilinochchi from three separate fronts. "Twenty-seven soldiers have made their ultimate sacrifice while 70 others suffered injuries during the battle. A few other soldiers have not been able to join with their units so far," the statement said. "Over 120 LTTE cadres have been killed and 80 others injured in the Kilinochchi area since Sunday morning," the ministry also said.
Tigers announced through the Tamilnet that 43 troops had been killed and 70 more were wounded in a confrontation just northwest of Kilinochchi.
|Author:||Guest [ Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:24 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Road to Killinochchi|
Sunday, 30 November 2008
Road to Killinochchi
Troops fighting with torrential monsoon rains and stormy winds
Special Forces Brigade Commander Major Lalith Jayasinghe killed in action
Entire Wanni was flooded for the past six days after the torrential monsoon rains. Three days of incessant rains poured into the area along with stormy winds. The entire battlefront was hit by a logistical nightmare as all the supply routes were cut off due to floods. Mannar-Pooneryn A-32 Road was under water in more than 30 locations making it inaccessible for the troops. Soldiers were engaged in a commendable task braving neck deep floods, manning defences even without a fresh meal for days. Even ration packets were not available to them as they were marooned in floods.
In the Pooneryn-Paranthan front thousands of troops were marooned in the front lines as the causeway in Nivil area cut off the battlefront from the battalion headquarters. But troops crossed this causeway taking sacks of ration packets on their shoulders to feed their fellow soldiers marooned in the front lines until a heavy vehicle drove across this causeway taking supplies to the troops on Thursday.
Troops suffered immensely as their feet got affected by muddy waters as they were unable to remove their boots for days.
According to the sources, the Jaffna front was the worst hit by the flood and the cyclone as large numbers of troops were marooned in Thanankilappu area as they were strengthening their positions in view of the Mahaweer Week.
A number of troops were reported missing as they were engaged in rescue operations. In the 57 Division also some troops went missing in floods and only one body was recovered few days after they were reported missing.
On Wednesday at about 2:30 am, about 200 soldiers of First Gajaba and Fourth Mechanised Infantry manning the defence line in Thanankilappu area, suddenly found themselves marooned in six feet of water. Their plea for rescue boats could not be immediately accommodated as there was a general flood situation in most areas of Jaffna. Finally, the first two rescue boats arrived there around 11:00am. But each boat could carry no more than 15 at a time. Around 5:00pm four of the marooned soldiers were washed away by raging waters. Navy rescue boats, which reached there in the evening, rescued the remaining marooned soldiers. But one sergeant and four others who had clung on to a log were picked up the following morning.
Amidst all these obstacles troops of 58 Division made one attempt last Sunday to breach the 18 Kilometer long earth bund across the Pooneryn-Paranthan Road and upto South of Kilinochchi towards Iranamadu. The earth bund stretches covering the Kilinochchi from the North, West and South. Though, 2 Commando troops successfully breached the Tiger earth bund at the dawn of Sunday, killing at least seven Tiger cadres, the infantry troops holding the earth bund could not stick to it due to stiff resistance from the LTTE and therefore withdrew towards their original defences.
The 574 Brigade operating in the South made a successful attempt to capture a section of earth bund in the Murikandi area opening a gateway to Kilinochchi.
According to some reports, small units of 57 and 58 divisions have entered Kilinochchi town. When troops started entering Kilinochchi town LTTE cadres were withdrawing in some sections. The LTTE withdrawal was unexpected and had made the army suspicious of an ulterior motive. Read more
According to intelligence reports some 2,300 cadres are deployed in the Kilinochchi front alone, from Paranthan to Kilinochchi South. According to ground sources, the Tigers also had tremendous difficulties with their defensive positions in Kilinochchi and the area been flooded after the 3 days of torrential rain. Many LTTE bunkers and firing positions were under water or washed away. This may have played a part of their unexpected withdrawal from some part of Killinochchi. The tigers were also finding it difficult to move their mortars and heavy artillery in the flooded roads.
Meanwhile, troops of 59 Division advanced towards their destination, Mullaithivu, while conducting further consolidating operations in recently liberated areas. Sporadic clashes between troops and LTTE terrorists reported in the north of Kumbulamunai yesterday. Army snipers deployed in forward defences in north of Kumbulamunai have effectively taken four targets, defence sources said. Separately, troops found five LTTE bodies along with 4 T-56 weapons and I-Com set while conducting a search operation in the south of Otiyamalai, Welioya, defence sources added.
Special Forces Brigade Commander Major Lalith Jayasinghe
Special Forces Brigade Commander Major Lalith Jayasinghe who led a eight man team some 30 kilometres inside enemy lines in the Oddusudan area was killed in action. Maj. Jayasinghe’s team after taking out one target and while preparing to take on a second target got into a firefight with a Tiger team that suddenly descended on their location. In the firefight he had been wounded. His team managed to withdraw to a safer location to treat their commanding officer. But their pursuers engaged them again ending the life of the brave major, and injuring another soldier. The dedication of this team had been such that the remaining six members had beaten back the attackers and managed to return to their unit with the body of the major and the injured soldier.
Major Jayasinghe had been twice awarded the highest bravery medal given to a living officer, the Weera Wickreme Vibushana, while he was alive. In addition he had won a number of other fighting awards.
|Author:||Guest [ Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:37 am ]|
|Post subject:||“do or die” for LTTE|
Sunday, December 07, 2008
“do or die” for LTTE
It is now truly a “do or die” situation for the LTTE with security Forces aiming for their vital points, namely Kilinochchi, Paranthan, Mulaitivu, and Elephant Pass, and they being forced to put everything at their disposal to protect those areas. In the past two and a half years that the Forces have fought the Eelam War 1V, 14,000 soldiers have been wounded. According to army headquarters statistics 12,000 of them were injured as a result of mortar and artillery attacks.
11 Tiger bodies recovered
Task Force Three personnel recovered bodies of 11 Tigers and 17 T-56 assault rifles following a major ambush on the enemy at Olumadu jungles yesterday. The tigers lost four males and seven females due to the
According to Army there were no casualties among troops in the confrontation. After another clash, occurred yesterday morning, at Adampan, west of Omanthai, troops of the 57 Division recovered a body of an LTTE cadre.
Alampil captured with minimum of casualties
Despite some heavy exchanges taking place in virtually all fronts this week, Security Forces notched up some notable successes. On the Northeastern coast, 11th Regiment of the Gemunu Watch (of 59th Division) captured the Sea Tiger stronghold at Alampil with minimum of casualties on Thursday. They were supported by 14th Wijeba Infantry Regiment commanded by Maj. Vipul Weerakoon. The 11th GW troops had been led from the front by their commander Lt. Col. Priyanka Fernando.
Lt. Col. Fernando leading his men in battle brought them some unexpected bonanzas as they outflanked the LTTE defenders by cutting them off from much of their northern escape routes. This lightning strike forced the defenders to flee in a hurry mainly by sea, leaving behind some 130 fibreglass boats.
Capture of Thunukkenikulam, Otiyamalai and Periyakulkam
The Seventh Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Col. Chaminda Lamahewa, which captured the Thunukkenikulam area are advancing towards Mulliyaweli. Also in the northeast the 59-1 Brigade took control of the strategically important Otiyamalai last Saturday. It was followed by the capture of the village of Periyakulkam, one kilometre west of Otiyamalai on Tuesday morning.
Kokavil and A-9 from Mankulam to Kokavil captured in 1 week
57-4 Brigade headed by Lt. Col. Senaka Wijesuriya liberated the entire Kokavil area after heavy fighting last Sunday evening, and since then took control of the entire stretch of the A-9 Highway from Mankulam to Kokavil.
Meanwhile the Eighth Light Infantry and the Tenth Light Infantry coming under the same Brigade captured the west bank of the Iranamadu tank.
As the 57-4 Brigade advanced its positions by some five kilometers, the 63-2 Brigade coming under Task Force 111 advanced from Pannikulam Forest covering a distance of four kilometers and linked up with 57-4 Brigade at Iranamadu Tank.
The Task Force 111 under the command of Brig. Sathyapriya Liyanage also captured the Pulipanvikulam village and was advancing towards the old Kandy Road.
This week also saw the fall of Mannakulam village to the troops of Task Force 11 under the command of Brig. Rohana Bandara. During the Jayasikuru Operation, Commando Major Jayanath Ginimellage and his men of the Second Commando Regiment fought the Tigers till their very end at this village.
Puliyankulam too fell into the hands of Task Force 11. It is a key junction on the A-9. The old Kandy Road leading to Nedunkerny begins here. This town also served as the headquarters of the Tiger tax collection division on the A-9. Troops advancing from here were in the process of capturing Kanagarayankulam yesterday.
Task Force 1V - New attack force
Meanwhile Deputy Commander of 59 Division Col. Nishantha Wanniarachchi has been appointed to command the new fighting unit designated Task Force 1V scheduled to enter battle in Wanni soon.
Lt. Col. Priyantha Wijegunawardena is the Colonel General Staff of this force. Two Brigades, 64-1 and 64-2, were placed under the command of Lt. Col. Jayampathy Bandara and Lt. Col. Randula Hathnagoda.
In the past two and a half years that the Forces have fought the Eelam War 1V, 14,000 soldiers have been wounded. According to army headquarters statistics 12,000 of them were injured as a result of mortar and artillery attacks.
|Author:||Guest [ Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:34 am ]|
|Post subject:||Heavy casualties as Sri Lanka takes more Tiger territory|
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Heavy casualties as Sri Lanka takes more Tiger territory
Military and LTTE exchange dead bodies of fighters
Task Force V - The 9th offensive Division against LTTE
Sri Lanka's military captured another key town this week from Tamil Tigers in the north following heavy fighting that left scores dead and wounded on both sides. At least 20 soldiers and “scores” of LTTE cadres were reportedly killed in intense battles in Kilinochchi, as the military announced the capture of the “strategically vital” Terumurikandy junction in the district.
It was on Wednesday that the 57 Division captured the Therumurikandy, the strategically important junction that links the Mannar Pooneryn A-32 road and the Jaffna Kandy A-9 road. The 574 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Senaka Wijesuriya was able to capture this strategically important junction after making a surprise move as the 571 Brigade under the command of Colonel G.V. Ravipriya launched an assault on the Tiger earth bund covering the Kilinochchi town.
Heavy fighting erupted on Tuesday and Wednesday as troops made efforts to capture the earth bund ahead of the Kilinochchi town but troops of the 574 Brigade were able to cut off the Therumurikandy junction after inducting troops that advanced from Akkarayankulam to the North of Therumurikandy junction.
Using the familiarity of the ground to their advantage, the Tigers virtually cornered the Seventh Light Infantry Regiment with a heavy rain of mortar and artillery fire. The regiment lost the lives of 22 of its men as a result, including 11 men who fell into Tiger hands. Another 30 soldiers were injured.
After this operation the pro-LTTE Tamilnet declared that 90 soldiers were killed, 180 injured and 12 bodies of soldiers were recovered by LTTE. However, ground troops confirmed that only 12 soldiers killed and 11 others went missing during the counter attack by the LTTE in Adampan area. Military on Saturday claimed at least 27 LTTE cadre were killed at Terumurikandy.
On Friday, military handed over 13 dead bodies of LTTE to ICRC. The bodies of eleven male and two female Tigers are to be taken to the un-cleared areas. Meanwhile dead bodies of eleven solders killed in the battle were also brought to Vavuniya by the ICRC the same afternoon.
Terumurikandy, located just 8-km from Kilinochchi, is the fourth major town to fall to government forces in the last two months. The army has recently taken control of Kokkavil, Olumadu and Pooneryn towns, long held by the Tigers. Terumurikandi is a key junction that links the road linking the Mannar Pooneryn A-32 road to the Jaffna-Kandy A-9 road via Jeyapuram and Akkaraynakulam.
In the mean time, 2 LTTE sub area leaders identified as Kabaitheban and Mohilan, had been killed during a confrontation in Mullaitivu on Thursday, the army said.
The Army Headquarters is now in the process of forming another Task Force which is going to be the Task Force V, the ninth offensive Division to be deployed against the LTTE. Colonel Roshan Galagama is expected to be appointed as the Commander of the new Task Force V that will start opertions in the end of December. Lt. Colonel Priyanka Fernando, presently the Commanding Officer of the 11 Gemunu Watch operating in the Mullaitivu Front and Lt. Colonel Ranjith Abeyratne presently Commanding Officer of the 7 Sri Lanka Light Infantry battalion now operating in the Kilinochchi front are tipped to be appointed as the two Brigade Commanders of the Task Force V.
The Task Force IV which was officially formed last week, appointing Colonel Nishantha Wanniarachchi as the Task Force Commander is due to commence their operations next week from Oddusudan on the Mullaitivu front. The Sri Lanka Army has recruited soldiers at an average of 3,500 per month enabling to increase its strength to more than 168,000 as of now. Following the Pooneryn victory the enrollment increased to 3,900 in the month of November. The Government has given approval to increase the strength of the Army up to 200,000.
The Task Force 3 continued their drive amidst heavy rain and now has advanced some four kilometers beyond Olumadu on A-34 route. They were in the process of capturing Kuruppamaddimuruppu Junction. Unfortunately, Major Priyantha Liyanage, the acting Commanding Officer of 20th Sinha regiment, during opertions in the Tiger defence line north of Olumadu, stepped on an anti-personnel mine and lost his leg. The 20th Sinha Regiment successfully overcame a number of LTTE targets there and repelled several waves of counter attacks by Tigers. In the process killed more than 26 attackers, even managed to recover bodies of 11 Tigers and 13 assault rifles and a radio communication set.
On the Weli Oyo front, troops of the 59 Division are pushing towards Nagachola forest reserve. Pitched battles are expected to flare up as they enter the suburbs of Mullaitivu- the Tiger stronghold once described as impregnable by some analysts of the Sri Lankan conflict. Three brigades of this division are advancing to Mullaitivu from 3 directions. The 591 Brigade is operating along a stretch running from Tanniyattu to North of Alampil. The 592 Brigade is advancing along the Nadunkerni- Mullaittivu road. They confronted Tiger cadres in the Koddankkailu area, about 6 miles from Nadunkerni. The 593 Brigade is advancing towards Mulliyaweli, a town on the Mankulam-Mullaitivu road.
Meanwhile one of Tiger diversionary teams who are involved in hit and run operations in the East, were confronted by an Army Commando team at Kanjikudiaru. The Tiger terror team headed by Nagulan, was successfully engaged by the commandos killing four of them, and causing injuries to the leader and three others. According to intelligence, about 50 Tigers under the command of Tiger leaders Nagulan, Umaram, Raguwan and Kalaimaduran had been deployed to cause havoc in Yala and eastern regions.
|Author:||Guest [ Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:46 am ]|
|Post subject:||Army make inroads to Tiger territory|
Friday, December 19, 2008
Army make inroads to Tiger territory
Eleven waves of LTTE attacks successfully repulsed
"170 Soldiers killed, over 400 wounded" - LTTE
One of the fiercest battles erupted in the early hours on Tuesday in the Kilinochchi, Paranthan and Jaffna fronts amidst bad weather conditions in the Wanni and the North currently hit by monsoonal rains when the Security Forces advancing on all three fronts launched simultaneous attacks on Tiger defences ahead of them.
The battles that erupted in Kilinochchi and Paranthan have turned out to be the most crucial and decisive battles that is being fought by the Security Forces in the Wanni liberation operation.
Tamil Tigers claimed on Wednesday killing 170 government troops and wounding 420 others during heavy fighting in northern Sri Lanka. The government denied the claims. However, un-confirmed reports claimed over 100 soldiers were killed and 40 more were missing. 200 plus were injured. The Tigers said they had recovered the bodies of 36 government troops and would be returning them through the International Red Cross. The LTTE did not give details of their casualties.
1) "170 Soldiers killed, over 400 wounded" - LTTE
2) Army make inroads to Tiger territory
16th of December 2008 was undoubtedly one of the bloodiest for the Security Forces. As they made some headway against impressive ditch not allowed bund defence line of the LTTE, on the approaches to the Killinochchi town, LTTE simply rained mortars and artillery fire on them.
The massive assault involving four fighting divisions, began with troops of the 57 Division tasked to take the LTTE defence line from Iranamadu Tank to Akkarayankulam via Adampan and 58 Division assigned the stretch from Adampan to Jaffna lagoon. 55 Division began its advance from north of the A-9 Highway, while 53 Division advanced from the South of this Highway. All four Divisions began their silent march on Monday night, and all out fighting flared around Kilinochchi defences at 6:00 am on Tuesday lighting up the skies amidst deafening noise.
To repel the massive assault the LTTE this time called in their most battle hardened units. Among the senior leaders who led their counter measures were Theepan, Banu, Jerry and Muhudan. The advancing troops had to contend with at least 11 waves of LTTE assaults to breakthrough forces’ lines at various points. Intercepted enemy radio communications revealed that on Tuesday alone 70 LTTE cadres were killed and 150 others were injured.
58 Division (Task Force I)
The 3 brigades of the 58 Division had the task of assaulting the six mile stretch of Tiger defences from Jaffna lagoon to Adampan, across Pooneryn – Paranthan (B-69) Road. The stretch north of B-69 Road being marshy and its southern stretch being open paddy country coupled with heavy rains experienced in the region, made movements very difficult.
Towards Jaffna lagoon the Ninth Gemunu and the Tenth Gajaba Regiments captured 1.3 kilometre stretch of the Tiger defence line The Ninth Gemunu was commanded by Lt. Col. Lal Chandrasiri, while the Tenth Gajaba was led by Maj. Janaka Udowita. Having repelled seven waves of counter attacks on their newly captured positions by the Tigers, by the following day 400 more metres from the enemy defence line was captured by the Tenth Gajaba and 12th Gemunu commanded by Lt. Col. Nandana Dunuwila.
The six mile onslaught launched by the 58 Division also included the Second Commando Regiment led by Lt. Col Jayantha Balasuriya, the Eighth Gemunu led by Lt. Col. Vajira Welagedera, Eighth Sinha headed by Lt. Col. Priyantha Jayawardena and the Fifth Armoured Corp commanded by Lt. Col. Nihal Samarakoon.
Amidst such unfavourable weather the Fifth Armoured Corp however did all it could to support the troops, by continuously firing at LTTE targets non stop from 6:00am to 9:00pm on Tuesday. It not only blasted insurmountable Tiger bunkers, but also helped to beat back Tiger attacks into the following day.
The enemy dispatched Sea Tiger boats to engage the troops from the Jaffna lagoon, but this attempt was beaten back by Mi-24 helicopter gun ships of the air force.
Seventeen soldiers of the 58 Division were killed in action on Tuesday, while ten others were listed as missing in action. By Friday troops of the 58 Division had advanced more than a kilometer beyond the breached Tiger defenses, resulting in fresh heavy fighting. In this sector the LTTE is said to have lost four of its attacking groups due to intense fighting.
53 and 55 Divisions
53 and 55 Divisions were in a difficult position as much of the area was flooded due to heavy rains. The 53 Division began its advance from about 10:00pm on Monday night, while the 55 Division descended on Tiger positions around 2:00am. These two divisions had only to advance between 600 to 800 metres to reach the LTTE second defence line. In addition to their personal weapons, some troops carried Palmyrah blocks ( thal kota) and sand filled sacks on their shoulders to make bunkers immediately after the capture of the enemy bunker line. The coordinates of these bunkers are marked in the LTTE's grid maps, enabling it to shell these positions pin point, in case they fall to the troops. Therefore, troops are compelled to build new bunkers away from the original positions in order to avoid indirect fire from the Tigers. By 3 am , they took assault positions and were awaiting orders for the assault.
The field commanders noticed a more than expected presence of the Tigers holding bunker positions. Flooded terrain, they noted, would impede the evacuation of casualties. By this time, four soldiers of 55 Division were wounded in fighting and one was dead. The 55 Division commanders decided against launching the attack. Troops decided to pull back to their original positions without major combat.
The 53 Division attacked the enemy position and heavy fighting flared up ahead of the forward defence lines east of the A 9 road. The Tigers put up stiff resistance. When casualties kept rising due to the unceasing and deadly accurate artillery fire, the troops decided to pull back to their original positions. The withdrawal of 800 meters was a perilous march in daylight. Some military officers said the greater number of casualties occurred during the pull back. Many soldiers fell victim to enemy fire when they tried to salvage fallen comrades. At the end of the deadly encounter, 26 soldiers were killed - including eight soldiers who were initially counted as missing in action. Eighty nine were wounded, most of whom were described as sustaining minor injuries. Faced with enemy fire and stuck in flooded marshland, troops were compelled to leave the bodies of some fallen comrades. Later the LTTE announced it had recovered eight bodies of soldiers.
In the 55 Division three soldiers were killed and ten others were injured.
The 57 Division which took on the Killinochchi defences proper had the most difficult task. The 57-1 Brigade under Col. G.V. Ravipriya, the 57-2 Brigade commanded by Lt. Col. Dhammika Jayasundera and the 57-4 Brigade led by Lt. Col. Senaka Wijesuriya led assaults launched by the 57 Division.
Maj. Dinesh Udugama led Third Gajaba Regiment and Lt. Col. Sisira Herath led Ninth Wijeyaba Regiment from the 57-2 Brigade successfully mounted the Tiger defence line at two points on the southern fringes of the Killinoichchi Town. The 572 Brigade attacked the earth bund from the direction of Iranamadu, while the 574 Brigade attacked Tiger positions on the Iranamadu tank.
Lt. Col. Ranjith Abeyratne commanded Seventh Infantry, Lt. Col. Chandana Somaweera headed Ninth Gajaba, and Maj. Weerasinghe led 12th Sinha Regiment assaulted the Killinochchi defence line from the Adampan village. Troops and Tigers exchanged heavy artillery and a mortar dual and Air Force was called in for close air support. Fighter jets and attack helicopters raided Tiger positions. All three regiments completed the capture of Tiger bunkers in their sector of the defence line by 6:05 am. With this assault literally all hell broke loose, as the Tigers opened up with all their big guns and the Army replied in kind.
Realising that if the defence line was breached from the Adampan village, the Army would enter Kilinochchi from the West, the enemy drew all available cadres to halt the Army drive here. However in the morning hours the Ninth Gajaba and the 12th Sinha had each captured about a kilometer from the defence bund, while the Seventh Infantry took over a stretch of about 800 metres.
In this bitter fighting, Tigers were in no better position either and were struggling to evacuate its wounded and dead. By noon the Ninth Gajaba alone had killed 40 Tiger cadres. Even the Adampan area leader identified as Neelavan had been killed in this fight, according to intercepted enemy communications.
The 57-4 Brigade’s success was a case of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. While the Tenth Infantry Regiment went for the defence bund it was ably supported by Eighth Infantry and 16th Sinha from two sides. In this fight within the first two to three hours they were able to kill 41 Tiger, according to intercepted enemy communications.
The Tigers launched wave after wave counter- attacks to recapture lost ground. The Twelve Singha Regiment was to receive the brunt of the attack. It came under eight counter attacks by Tigers during the day. The 12 SR was in control of a strategically important position with a short distance to Kilinochchi town. The troops withstood the attacks. But as casualties were rising, they decided to pull back. By that time, 17 soldiers were killed and 15 others were unaccounted for.
During the fierce battle the valour of the troops was on display. During the initial attack, troops of the 12 SR captured 18 bunkers, but the Tigers put up fierce resistance from three bunkers. At this moment, the late Cpl Namal Udawatta who was killed in action recently ,volunteered to seize these three entrenched positions. He and his team succeeded in neutralizing the Tigers and capturing the three bunkers. Soon after the battle, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
The 574 Brigade seized a 2.4 km long stretch on the earth bund in Iranamadu. Later in the day, the Tigers launched 12 counter attacks against the troops of this brigade, who withstood the waves after waves of Tiger counter attack. According to a military official, there had been 22 strong points in this 2.4 km long stretch. The Tigers had put up bunkers at every 100 meter distance.
Fighting which flared up in Kilinochchi is unmatched in ferocity, which is understood given that the battle has reached the doorstep of the de-facto headquarters of the Tigers. The Tigers mobilized their full strength, waging a series of counter attacks and finally succeeded in dislodging the troops from at least some positions initially captured by them. Adverse terrain conditions, aggravated by torrential rain stood against the troops.
Despite day long Tiger mortar and artillery fire 57-4 Brigade managed to destroy 22 Tiger bunkers and consolidated the grounds it took. Two Tiger boats that came to attack the troops of this Brigade were sunk by them in the Iranamadu Tank. Troops even managed to recover bodies of five Tigers, including two leaders who directed the fight.
On Wednesday from 4:00pm to 6:00 pm the enemy mounted five waves of attacks in a vain attempt to dislodge 57-4 Brigade from this stretch of the bund, but all of them were beaten back killing 17 LTTE cadres. This leaves only a gap of three kilometers to Killinochchi from Iranamadu army positions.
According to a final toll, 80 soldiers were killed in fighting, this included the figures which were initially classified as missing in action. The pro-Tiger websites flashed pictures of slain soldiers, reporting that the Tigers had seized 36 bodies of soldiers, including eight seized from the Kilalli front. Evacuation of the dead became a problem as troops had to brave the waterways. Over 250 soldiers wounded, many of them had sustained P 3 injuries.
Military officials claim that at least 140 Tiger cadres were killed in the attack, including Adampan Tiger leader Nelawan.
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