SLA toll mounts, 'feint' said to have drawn troops into ambush

[TamilNet, Thursday, 24 April 2008, 18:51 GMT]
Even before the Tamil Tigers handed back the bodies of 28 Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers left behind by their retreating comrades following Wednesday’s pitched battle in the Jaffna peninsula, the bodies of 143 other soldiers had been brought to three funeral parlours in Colombo, a pro-opposition website reported. Meanwhile, CNN quoted 'highly placed' army sources as saying the SLA had been drawn into an ambush when it launched an offensive against LTTE positions Wednesday.

"The funeral parlours situated in Battaramulla, Malabe and Borella have received 38, 30 and 75 bodies respectively," the ‘LankaDissent.com’ website quoted defence sources as saying Thursday.

CNN reported Wednesday night that, contrary to Sri Lankan government claims that the heavy fighting had ensued when an LTTE offensive was being repulsed, the SLA had launched a three-pronged offensive.

"The rebels feigned they had withdrawn from their first line of defenses in well-dug-out trenches," one army official told CNN. "After the troops backed by battle tanks reached the area, the rebels sprung a fierce attack."

The army sources also told CNN that at least 30 soldiers were reported missing in action. On Thursday, the LTTE handed back the bodies of 28 soldiers.

Military casualties were airlifted to hospitals as far away as Colombo, though reporters and photographers were barred from seeing them, the Associated Press reported.

Officials appealed to the public on radio and television to donate blood, CNN reported.


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