Mankulam route yet to open

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 July 1999, 14:25 GMT]
The opening of a new supply road to the Vanni through Mankulam on the A9 highway has been delayed over disagreement between the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and the Liberation Tigers (LTTE) as to the details of the demilitarised zone between the two sides, said sources.

Aid workers said that both the SLA and the LTTE have accepted in principle to maintain a demilitarised no-man's land to enable the smooth cross loading of food and other essentials destined for the Vanni.

The modalities proposed by the SLA were sent to the LTTE through the ICRC, soon after both parties expressed their willingness to open a supply route along the A9 high way, they added.

According to the SLA suggestions, its forward defence lines will be located at the 140th milepost and the LTTE's shall be at 145th milepost along Vavuniya-Mankulam A9 trunk road.

The five miles gap between the two parties will be the no-man's land where no military actions shall take place, the SLA proposals said. The SLA wants a strip 1km wide along the length of the DMZ.

However, this in effect would entail the LTTE pulling back several miles from its present positions, according to informed sources.

The SLA's northernmost positions in the central Vanni are located at Mankulam, the remainder of the A9 highway from Mankulam to Kilinochchi being held by the LTTE.

The A9 was the objective of the SLA's Operation Jayasikurui (Victory Assured) which was called off last October after 18 months of heavy fighting.

Meanwhile, about 200 persons from the Vanni stranded in Vavuniya gathered yesterday in front of the ICRC sub-delegate's office at the Railway Station Road and appealed to the officials to help them to travel back to their home towns.

The officials said that they were unable to help at the moment, but were working closely with the SLA and the LTTE to arrive at an agreement to open an access route.

Related Articles:
07.07.99   LTTE agrees Mankulam supply route
04.07.99   Work underway on new route to Vanni
30.06.99   Alternative supply routes offered


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