SLA suffers heavy casualties

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Over 500 Sri Lankan soldiers have died in bitter fighting in the Vanni in the past 5 days, the LTTE said today. The Liberation Tigers also say that 3 villages occupied by the SLA have been retaken. A huge quantity of arms and ammunition and several vehicles have been captured.

The Liberation Tigers say that the 500 Sri Lankan soldiers died in the jungle fighting that has raged in the past five days in the Vanni area northeast of Kanakarayankulam. 162 Tigers fighters were killed in the same period.

The Liberation Tigers say their commando units have captured several ammunition depots and secured an 'immense' quantity of arms and ammunition, including 14 mortars(81mm), 22 mortars (60mm) and a pair of 0.50 calibre heavy machine guns.

Sources in Vavuniya said that 700 assault rifles had also been taken by the Tigers.

The vast amount of ammunition taken from the SLA is even more significant. It includes over a million rounds of 7.62mm rounds for assault rifles, 4394 mortar shells (60mm), 6785 mortar shells (81mm), 1684 RPG-7 rounds, 1684 grenades (40mm) and 5300 hand grenades.

map_olumadu.gifThe Liberation Tigers have also taken several vehicles from the SLA, including two South African manufactured Buffel APCs and 16 tractors. The SLA is short of trucks and uses Massey Ferguson tractors to tow trailers filled with troops into battle.

Large numbers of Sri Lankan troops who penetrated deep into the Mankulum area were driven out in the early part of the week, though one sizable Sri Lankan column remains trapped in Karu Patta Murippu, according to the LTTE and sources in Vavuniya.

In other heavy fighting nearby, the Tigers say that they have recaptured the villages of Vingnakulum, Karapukuthy and Katkidanku, inflicting further heavy losses on the SLA.

Early today, the LTTE said that their units were launching 'search and destroy' missions in the areas surrounding the villages, eliminating the remaining Sri Lankan resistance there.

Most of the casualties would have been suffered by troops of the SLA's 53 Division which has borne the brunt of the fighting in the past few weeks. In the close quarter combat, it has become increasingly difficult for the SLA to use artillery and air strikes.

The intense battles are expected to continue as the SLA attempts to relieve its soldiers trapped at Karu Patta Murippu.

 

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