Confusion follows SLA claims
[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
At the weekly cabinet press briefing this morning Brig. Sarath Munasinghe said that Operations Jayasikurui has completed its second phase now with the capture of the Mankulam Ottisuddan road.
The final phase will begin soon after Sri Lankan troops consolidate the areas that have been captured he said.
The brigadier claimed that out of the 76 km of road between Vavuniya and Kilinochchi 46 km have been brought under the SLA's control and that the it has also captured one third of the remaining 30 km.
However he did not specify the route along which Operation Jayasikurui's final phase will proceed. The Sri Lankan brigadier just said that "a route will be opened soon".
He accepted that the SLA has not taken the Mankulam town and told the press that only about five hundred deserters out of more than ten thousand (the Sri Lankan -MoD put this figure yesterday at eight thousand) who are still at large had reported back to duty until yesterday.
Reports from Vavuniya say that the Sri Lankan army has not yet taken any part of the Vavuniya Kilinochchi road between Puliyankulam and Mankulam.
The pressmen were therefore confused as to what the Brigadier meant by saying that 46 km of the road has been brought under the control of the SLA.
Of the Vavuniya - Kilinochchi road the SLA really controls only about 19 km up to the outskirts of Puliyankulam.
The distance between the positions of Div. 53 immediately east of Puliyankulam and the newly captured part of the Mankulam-Ottisuddan road is not more than twenty seven km if the path that has been bulldozed by the SLA through the dense jungles east of Kanakarayan Kulam is considered a roadway.
Hence it appears that the Brigadier, in saying that 46 km is already under the SLA's control, was actually referring to this new jungle road as part of an alternative Main Supply Route to Jaffna the SLA is planning to open now in the face of the insurmountable resistance put up by the LTTE on the A 9 trunk road.
But the position of Brigadier Munasinghe this morning that one third of the remaining thirty km has also been captured is either meant to confuse or refers to a new direction that the Jayasikurui might take say analysts in Colombo.
Meanwhile the Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament approved a motion by the UNP to debate the security of Colombo in the legislature tomorrow. The UNP has sought the debate apparently to show the Sinhala constituency that the PA is incapable of protecting the city.
And the commanding officer of the Gall fort SLA camp was sentenced to prison yesterday for stealing three hundred thousand rupees from army welfare funds.