3RD LEAD (CORRECTION)

Fighting kills 41 SLA troops, wounds 120

[TamilNet, Thursday, 10 August 2006, 13:54 GMT]
Sri Lankan Army advancing into LTTE-controlled areas have lost 41 soldiers killed in Thursday’s heavy fighting around the Maavil Aru sluice gates, military sources said. 22 soldiers have been seriously wounded and 98 others wounded, military officials in Colombo said speaking on condition of anonymity. Meanwhile the LTTE military spokesman, Rasiah Ilanthirayan said ten Tigers had died and 20 were wounded.

Many of the SLA casualties were amongst elite troops deployed to wrest control of the contested water channel at Maavil Aru, the Colombo military sources said.

Military wounded are pouring into hospitals in government-held parts of Trincomalee, reports say.

Medics treated dozens of new Army casualties taken to the government-held town of Kantale, and were told to expect more, Reuters reported. The local hospital struggled to cope, as injured shared beds and lay on trolleys.

injured SLA soldier
Medical staff attend to an injured SLA soldier in Kantale base hospital, 10 August 2006 2006. (REUTERS)
Beds are being cleared of non-urgent cases to make room for more wounded as fighting continued, Reuters said.

Kantale hospital manager said staff had been pulled away from treating newly arrived displaced people despite rising illness in overcrowded camps.

Reuters quoted accounts by SLA wounded saying mortar and artillery fire from LTTE forces struck the troops as they moved across open ground to close on the sluice after clearing mines and booby traps.

Doctors, medical staff and soldiers rushed to help the wounded out of ambulances, some of them in torn, blood-soaked uniforms, Reuters reported, adding the dead arrived with less fanfare, quietly driven to the morgue in civilian trucks.

"From dawn today, the Sri Lankan army has launched a full-fledged offensive operation against our territories involving thousands of troops, heavy guns and bombardment," LTTE spokesman Ilanthirayan told AP.

 

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