Civilians flee artillery barrage
[TamilNet, Saturday, 20 March 1999, 17:21 GMT]
Heavy SLA artillery fire on Vidaththaltheevu from its positions in Thallaady has completely driven out the civilian population from the area since last Thursday said the Mannar TamilNet correspondent today.
He said that the few residents who remained here after the SLA and the Liberation Tigers traded artillery and heavy mortar fire on Wednesday and Thursday, packed their belongings and left today following heavy SLA shelling to find temporary shelter in Madhu, Kalliady and Iluppaikkadavai and Kovilkulam. (The latter three are villages further north of Vidaththaltheevu on the Mannar-Pooneryn road)
The civilians started moving out of Vidaththaltheevu initially a week ago fearing that the SLA would advance further on the Mannar-Pooneryn road.
Vidaththaltheevu is almost totally deserted today said the Mannar TamilNet correspondent, quoting Church and Kachcheri sources. Vidaththaltheevu is 17 kilometers northeast of Mannar.
Meanwhile, the SLA at Thallaady is taking precautions to prevent further damage from LTTE attacks, including parking all its heavy vehicles in Vankaalai after dark.
Sources in this coastal village 5 kilometers southeast of Mannar said that senior SLA officials from Thallaady now come to stay in Vankaalai at night.