New access routes proposed

[TamilNet, Monday, 02 August 1999, 13:28 GMT]
New proposals have been sent by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) to the Liberation Tigers this morning regarding the opening of an access route to the areas held by the LTTE in the Vanni, Major General Lionel Balagalla the Chief of Staff and the Commandar for Vanni told a news conference held in Colombo this afternoon.

The Press meet took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar with his officials was also present at the Press conference.

Major General Lionel Balagalla has said that the SLA has proposed five alternative routes to the Vanni.

  • (a)Poovarsankulam - Moondrumuippu to Thunukkai
  • (b)Vavuniya - Mankulam to Thunukkai
  • (c)Vavuniya - Mankulam to Kilinochchi
  • (d)Vavuniya - Mankulam - Oddusuddan to Puthukukiyeruppu
  • (e)Vavuniya - Mankulam - Oddusuddan to Mullaithivu
The SLA is ready to open one of the above 5 routes to have an access to the Vanni, he said.

He told the newsmen that the forward defence lines of both parties can remain as they are and an access route can be opened on one of the above.

The access route to the Vanni through the Mannar region was closed on June 26 during a military operation in the area.

The SLA had earlier proposed the establishment of a 5km long demilitarized zone first on the Mankulam-Kilinochchi road and then on the Mankulam-Thunukkai road.

The Liberation Tigers had rejected the proposals, saying it was too risky for them to dismantle their defenses and withdraw five miles from their present forward defence lines.

Sri Lankan defence analysts said the SLA's new proposals entail running supplies through some of the most militarized parts of the Vanni, and where the Liberation Tigers would be particularly wary of dismantling their defenses.

The LTTE is said to favour reopening the access route which was closed on June 26.

Sri Lankan press reports said last week that the SLA had strengthened its supply roads to Mankulam and established supply points, which have enhanced its ability to exploit a breakthrough in the LTTE defenses beyond the northern town.


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