Vanni artillery battles continue
[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 March 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Heavy mortar and artillery duels are being fought in the general area of Mankulam from 9 p.m. last night said sources in Vavuniya today. The army launched a fresh heavy artillery and mortar barrage from its positions to the east and south of the strategic junction on the Vavuniya-Jaffna highway. This began late last night after a lull in fighting during the day.
Despite the intense bombardment of the town since last week, when the army announced that it had begun the last phase of the three pronged offensive to take Mankulam, there appears to be little progress from the army's current positions east, west and south of the junction.
Some army sources in Colombo, however, continue to insist that the SLA is currently engaged in an intense three pronged operation to capture Mankulam.
A well informed source in Vavuniya said that the SLA is using the same battle field tactics which helped it capture the Puliyankulam and Kanakarayan Kulam junctions.
The tactic, according to him, is to intensely bombard the LTTE's positions to keep the Tigers pinned down to their bunkers. And then to take advantage of this to send in Special Forces commandos who surprise the Tigers and occupy key positions within their defended zone.
The barrage which began last night could be a prelude to a surprise manoeuvre by the SLA's Special Forces of the 53 and 56 divisions said a source close to the army in the forward areas of Op. Jayasikurui.
An attempt by the Special Forces to break out of SLA positions in Karuppatta Murippu on February 24 to spring a surprise on the LTTE entrenched in Mankulam was thwarted due to fierce resistance by the Tigers.
The attempt ended in disarray said army sources.
27.02.98 Fresh SLA thrust towards Mankulam
25.02.98 Tigers hand over 16 SLA bodies
24.02.98 SLA advance repulsed - LTTE