2ND LEAD (UPDATE)
Shelling, troop movement in Batticaloa, 3 killed
[TamilNet, Friday, 04 August 2006, 11:32 GMT]
As fighting rages in Trincomalee district, to the south, Sri Lanka Army troops Friday attacked Liberation Tigers’ positions in northern part of Batticaloa district. Following five hours of intense shelling, that killed 3 members of a family, SLA troops and paramilitaries advanced towards LTTE positions in Panichchankerni before being beaten back. Meanwhile, a significant number of Sri Lanka Army troops in Batticaloa town have been withdrawn for deployment in Trincomalee and their duties were being assigned to the troops from the elite Special Task Force (STF). All leave has been cancelled for police forces.
Three people from the same family, M. Kulanthaivel, 50, his 45-year-old wife, Sithi, and their 12-year-old boy Seevaratnam, were killed by a shell at their house in Koyilkudiyiruppu, between Vakarai and Panichchankerni.
Four civilians wounded in the shell attacks were taken to Valaichenai hospital.
Large numbers of civilians have fled from the area into surrounding jungles. Some people were also moving towards Valaichchenai.
SLA artillery based at the 23-2 Brigade headquarters in Valaichennai paper factory and Karadikkulam SLA camp Friday launched bombardment of villages in LTTE-controlled Panichchankerni, sources said.
The intense shelling, which began at 4:00 a.m., continued till 9:00 a.m.
SLA troops and paramilitaries from another location advanced towards the LTTE front defence line (FDL), but were forced to turn back by LTTE counter-fire, sources said.
The LTTE’s Panichchankerni FDL and the SLA’s opposing FDL at Kirimichchai are two kilometers apart.
The area is 47 km northwest of Batticaloa town. Pannichernkerni is 4 km southwest of Vakarai.
SLA troops arrested three youths, sources said.
Meanwhile, sources in Batticaloa town said that SLA troops have recently been gradually handing over to the Special Task Force (STF) troops.
Sources in Batticaloa also said that all leave for police has been cancelled. The STF, organised under the Sri Lankan Police department, is a counter-insurgency arm of the Sri Lankan forces.
STF units had primarily been deployed in Amparai district but have recently taken a more prominent role in Batticaloa.