Heavy fighting reported in the Vanni

[TamilNet, Friday, 14 May 1999, 23:04 GMT]
Heavy fighting has been reported between the Liberation Tigers and the Sri Lanka Army in the Paalampiddy and Periyamadhu areas since last night, said sources in the northern town of Vavuniya.

Eighteen SLA soldiers and thirty-six Liberation have been reported killed. 186 SLA soldiers have been wounded, said the sources.

The fighting which erupted around 10 p.m. yesterday continued this morning after a brief lull during the night.

Sri Lankan Army sources said that the troops are engaged in 'operation Ranagossa III' and have brought under their control the Periyamadhu area and a road leading to Mallavi over the past few days.

Sources said that The Liberation Tigers have engaged the advancing units of the SLA with heavy mortar and artillery fire. There had been face to face confrontations as well.

SLA casualties were air-lifted to the Anuradhapura hospital, south of Vavuniya. Many of the wounded have been flown to Colombo, hospital sources said.

Informed sources said that the Liberation Tigers have recovered the bodies of some SLA soldiers, and arrangements have been made to hand over the bodies through the ICRC.

ICRC sources said that arrangements are being made to receive five dead bodies of the SLA killed at Paalampiddy from the Liberation Tigers. They said the bodies will be transported to Vavuniya and handed over to the SLA.

Meanwhile sources in Mannar said the SLA stationed at the Thallaady camp in the Mannar district began firing artillery shells last night around 8 p.m. It continued for half an hour. Shelling started again around 10 p.m. and continued for nearly two hours the sources added.

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