119 killed and 190 soldiers wounded say Military officials

[TamilNet, Thursday, 26 June 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Reports coming from Vavuniya say that Wednesday's Tiger attack has left more than 150 Sri Lankan soldiers dead and another hundred wounded. A Sri Lankan defense ministry official has however said that they lost only 119 of their soldiers in the attack including a colonel and three other officers. The official also said that some 190 soldiers were also wounded. According to the LTTE, in the five hours offensive, 85 of their cadres were killed.

Yesterday's LTTE press release states that the 'LTTE forces have dealt a devastating blow to the 'head' of Sri Lanka's army column' and that the 'army's entire 120mm artillery base at Periamadu was wiped out'. It also said that they captured one 120mm long-range artillery piece with 300 shells and the lower vehicular segments of five more artillery pieces. The Tiger statement also has claimed that they captured 'a number of armored vehicles and small arms'. Sri Lankan government has however not released any statements about the damage caused during the attack.

LTTE Artillery
LTTE cadres with artillery pieces captured in the operation "unceasing waves" at Mullaitivu.
Reports say that the Tiger attack on the Periamadu, just two kilometers from the small town of Puliyankulam, situated at the Vavuniya-Kilinochchi axis was aimed at blunting the army offensive, 'Jaya Sikurui'. Earlier on 24 July, 97, the Sri Lankan government began its push towards this strategic town from two flanks, one from Periamadu and the other from Nedunkerni, which is 10 km to the east.

Commenting on the attack Sri Lankan military spokesman Sarath Munasinghe said that the security forces are undeterred and will push ahead into the LTTE held territory. A military official also said that the "Troops are now strengthening their defenses and have now patched a mile long breach caused in the attack." However, many army officials are privately admitting that they are stunned by the ferocity of the LTTE attacks and surprised by the harder than expected resistance.

The second attack in a span of two weeks, on the stretched out Sri Lankan military forces, has caused immense damages to both personnel and hardware. On June 14, the Tigers attacked the rear flank of the military column at Thandikulam killing at least 200 soldiers and destroying military hardware valued now at more than 300 million Sri Lankan Rupees. At that time of the attack, the deputy defense minister dismissed it as a minor setback and proclaimed "Even our tail is more powerful than their joint forces".

Operation 'Jaya Sikurui' was aimed at opening the Main Supply Route (MSR) to enable the supply of weapons and military personnel to the Jaffna peninsula, supplied now only by sea and air. Successive losses in aircrafts by the Sri Lankan government have made this task a very costly affair. It is estimated that more than 450 Sri Lankan soldiers have been killed and another 700 wounded in the Operation 'Jaya Sikurui'. LTTE say that they have lost nearly 160 of their cadres in the operation.

The Tigers intensified their campaign for a Tamil Homeland and for the right of Self-determination in the Island's north and east after 1983 riots. The war has claimed the lives of more than 50,000 Tamils in the past 14 years and has made more than 750,000 Tamils homeless.


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