Fighting reported at Kokkadicholai
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 August 1998, 23:32 GMT]
Twelve Sri Lankan Army (SLA) soldiers and two civilians have been admitted with injuries to the Batticaloa hospital by 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) engaged the SLA at Kokkadicholai, 20 km southwest of Batticaloa, for the first time since "Eelam War III" began, said informed sources in Europe when contacted by TamilNet on Wednesday evening.
The sources also said that SLA military helicopters were seen hovering over Kokkadicholai, in the LTTE held areas west of the Batticaloa lagoon
The sources said this could mean that some of the SLA's wounded were being ferried directly to hospitals outside the east.
The fighting is continuing they said.
The body of an unidentified man is lying in the Batticaloa Hospital morgue. The SLA claims that he was an LTTE member said the sources.
The two injured civilians are from Kaanchithamkudah and Thaandiyadi.
LTTE casualty figures are not known, said the sources.
Unconfirmed reports said that with the SLA at Kokkadicholai, the LTTE has been shelling the area from its artillery positions, while the SLA is returning fire from Ariyampathy, 7km south of Batticaloa, and from Kokkadicholai itself.
The joint operation of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), Special Task Force (STF) and police began in the early hours on Wednesday said the sources.
The Sri Lankan forces approached Kokkadicholai from five directions - Vellaveli (30 km southwest of Batticaloa) Munmunai, Vavunatheevu, Paddiruppu, and Ambalanthurai (17 km south of Batticaloa), said the sources. Initial reports had said the advance was from three directions, they added.
The sources said that houses were burnt at Arasadytheevu, near Kokkadicholai, during the advance, but the information could not be confirmed.
The SLA is expected to remain at Kokkadicholai overnight said the sources. There is also speculation that the SLA might establish a permanent presence in the area unlike on the last two occasions when SLA troops withdrew within 48 hours.
The speculation was based on the resistance that the LTTE staged this time, unlike on the last two occasions, which could be due to concern that the SLA intended to establish a camp, said the sources.