Another Kilinochchi advance repulsed-LTTE

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 09 June 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Over 75 Sri Lankan Army soldiers were killed and over 200 injured in the fresh fighting that broke out yesterday in Kilinochchi as the SLA launched another offensive to recapture the northern town, said the LTTE in a press release issued yesterday from its International Secretariat in London. Western analysts say that they expect fighting to continue in the area in the short term.

The LTTE press release said: "In a major offensive to penetrate the LTTE defence lines the armed forces suffered heavy casualties and withdraw in disarray leaving 30 dead in the battle front."

"The fighting began at 5.30 in the morning and lasted for seven hours. Under the cover of heavy artillery fire and air support hundreds of troops penetrated the forward lines in the Kilinochchi town. The LTTE fighters engaged the soldiers with heavy mortar fire. Unable to withstand the heavy resistance of the LTTE fighters the Sri Lankan forces finally withdrew in total disarray."

Twenty-six Tigers died in the fighting, the press release said.

According to the LTTE the bodies of 30 SLA soldiers will be handed over to the ICRC today.

This latest bout of increased fighting began on May the 28th when the SLA launched a fresh offensive to capture the strategic town of Mankulam as part of the ongoing Operation Jaya Sikurui, intended to capture the A9 highway running from Vavuniya to Jaffna.

The offensive on the 28th was repulsed and since then several such operations have been launched.

The SLA is said to have suffered a significant number of wounded, in the recent fighting, said sources close to the LTTE in London, who also added that the wounded are being dispersed to rural hospitals in districts such as Kuranagale and Moneragale.

According to defence analysts in the west, the handling of large numbers of wounded will hamper the SLA offensive. This would also hit the morale of front-line troops, they said.

They point out that the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) abandoned its operations in the Mullaitivu jungles due to the large numbers of wounded it sustained there.

The western analysts also say that the SLA would probably like to complete this phase of the offensive before the SAARC conference scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka next month.

They say it is unlikely that the Sri Lankan Government would engage in heavy fighting in the run up to or during the conference. Some analysts also believe that the military censorship may be lifted around this time.

The Sri Lankan President imposed strict censorship on the reporting of military news last week. This, along with the long standing ban on correspondents entering the war zone has made independent verification of events there impossible.

In the short term the analysts expect the fighting to intensify. They say that the SLA strategy could be to launch continuous, repetitive operations against LTTE positions in the Mankulam and Kilinochchi areas and thereby seek a breakthrough.

Operation Jayasikurui is almost 13 months old. The operation has been slowed by stiff LTTE resistance along the A9.


Related Articles:
05.06.98   Conflicting casualty claims
04.06.98   Heavy casualties in Kilinochchi

 

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