LTTE stems 'Jaya Sikirui'

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 November 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The third phase of Operation Jayasikurui is still on square one after six days of this massive multi pronged offensive by the Sri Lankan army to cover more miles on the large swath of jungle terrain which lies between its positions between Kilinochchi and Karippatta Murippu.

Claims in Vavuniya last evening that government troops had captured Mankulam turned out to be incorrect.

Ex-Tamil militant sources working closely with the SLA, meanwhile, insisted that the army is still in its old positions a mile south of Puliyankulam junction.

The state run TV, however, ran footage of the Deputy Defence Minister visiting a spot occupied by the army which had a freshly painted board marked 'Puliyankulam'.

Although well into the sixth day, the immediate target of the Jayasikurui's third phase remain unclear as the army has been trying to push towards five different targets since Nov. 14.

The SLA has attempted to advance from its positions in Kilinochchi, Puliyankulam, Karuppatta Murippu (towards the north and towards the west to Olumadu and Mankulam beyond it) and east of Kakarayan Kulam.

The Tigers have fought the SLA on all fronts.

Military analysts say that the SLA's strategy is obviously aimed at dispersing the LTTE's troop concentrations by simultaneously opening several fronts and then pushing towards one of the main targets and consolidating it before the Tigers can regroup for counter attacks.

The third phase of the Jayasikurui began on Nov.14 - six months after the ambitious Operation commenced with the stated aim of bringing the A 9, the 76 k.m long trunk road linking Vavuniya and Kilinochchi under government control in less than four months.

The third phase has been declared by the SLA high command as the final phase of the Operation.

Three divisions under a new Overall Operations Commander are involved in the final stage of the offensive.

The sudden change in the high command which was directing the operation has led to some heart burn in the ranks say sources in Vavuniya.

Military sources in Vavuniya said that the former commander of Op. Jayasikurui Major. General Asoka Jayawardena was abruptly removed from his position for expressing reservations about the possibility pushing ahead speedily to link up with Kilinochchi to meet the February deadline set out by the Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of Defence.

Major General Lal Weerasooriya was appointed the OOC to run the third and final phase of the operation.

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