4TH LEAD (ADDED DETAILS)
Outgoing artillery fire rocks Mannaar city
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 04:04 GMT]
Normalcy was disturbed in Mannaar city Tuesday from 8:10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. as Sri Lanka Army mounted an artillery barrage simultaneously from all its camps in Mannaar towards Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam territories, after an artillery box barrage carried out by the Tigers targeting the Tha'l'laadi garrison. LTTE shells hit a mini-camp causing casualties among SLA soldiers. Clouds of smoke were observed in the area where at least 3 of the SLA positions attached to the mini camp took fire. According to SLA reports, the LTTE shelling caused damage to St. Antony's church and killed 6 soldiers staying in the premises. The church shares a common fence with the mini-camp.
The SLA soldiers manning the sentry posts along the causeway between Mannaar island and Tha'l'laadi garrison pulled back to the city as LTTE fired artillery shells began hitting their positions in the morning, killing at least 6 soldiers and wounding 10, according to official figures by the SLA.
All traffic to and from city remained halted and mobile phone links were cut off.
Although normalcy returned to the city around 2:00 p.m., the traffic to and from the island is yet to resume. At 3:15 p.m. some vehicles were allowed from the island to nearby places Murungkan, Uyilangku'lam and Naanaaddaan. However, vehicles from Vavuniyaa and Mathavaachchi were turned back at Ka'l'li Kaddaikkaadu.
The city was shaken by the deafening sound of an outgoing artillery barrage, according to initial reports.
The SLA began firing Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) and artillery shells from their bases in Maanthai, Uyilangkul'am, South Bar and the Tha'l'laadi garrison.
The artillery duel comes after a three-pronged SLA ground push was thwarted Monday evening in Pa'ndivirichchaan area.
Meanwhile, 2 SLA soldiers and a 20-year-old youth were wounded in Periyaakamam near the 100-houses-scheme situated between Mannaar and Thalaimannaar Monday night around 2:00 a.m. while a suspicious boat was spotted by Sri Lankan military personnel, police said.
In a cordon and search operation that followed, the police seized computers, DVD players, vehicle spare parts and several other items, that were stored at a hidden location in the settlement.