SLA to re-establish Pooneryn base?
[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 October 1998, 17:35 GMT]
Sources close to the SLA in Jaffna speculated today that government troops might move into Pooneryn (Poonagary) soon to establish a base there, mainly to impede the Liberation Tigers from attacking the Elephant Pass base. The VoT said in its 9 p.m. news broadcast that the army launched a heavy and unprecedented artillery barrage on Pooneryn from 7.30 p.m. this evening.
The barrage is from the SLA's firing bases in the peninsula the radio said. Jaffna sources said that there was a heavy movement of artillery, armour and infantry since yesterday towards Elephant Pass.
@@file1@@The SLA established the Pooneryn base complex in 1992. It was almost overrun by the Liberation Tigers in an amphibious operation called 'Frog Leap' in November 1993.
But the SLA re-established its positions when the Liberation Tigers withdrew after bitter fighting with reinforcements.
The Tigers insisted during the peace talks with the Sri Lankan government from 1994 October to 1995 March that the Pooneryn base should be removed to facilitate civilian travel between the peninsula and the mainland.
Following the fall of the Mullaithivu SLA base in July 1996, the army launched Operation Sath Jaya and captured Kilinochchi and its environs. The Pooneryn SLA base was pulled out soon after.
The military explained at the time that the base was too isolated like the one in Mullaithivu, and hence vulnerable to an onslaught by the Liberation Tigers.
However, army sources in Jaffna scoffed at the speculation about troops moving into Pooneryn to set up a camp there.
But informed ex-Tamil militant sources said that the barrage on the western sector of the coast of the mainland across the Jaffna lagoon could be a diversion to begin operations aimed at protecting the Elephant Pass base which is about 20 kilometers east of Pooneryn.