SLA operation towards Paduvankarai
[TamilNet, Sunday, 15 August 1999, 07:59 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) stationed at the Vavunathivu camp, 5 km. south west of Batticaloa town, began an operation to recapture areas under the control of the Liberation Tigers in the western hinterland of the district last night around 8 p.m.
However, when moving towards the Paduvankarai region they met with stiff opposition from the Liberation Tigers who had positioned themselves at the 3rd milepost on the road running west to Aayithiyamalai junction. The SLA units retreated to their base around midnight.
The Razeek group that constitutes the National Guard Battalion of the SLA and a unit of the PLOTE accompanied the army in this military operation.
The SLA took tanks and heavy weapons to recapture the area.
Tamil paramilitary sources said that a heavy build of the Liberation Tigers around the 3rd mile post was observed.
Heavy mortar and artillery fire was directed at the western hinterland beyond the lagoon from the 23-3 brigade headquarters and the SLA's military intelligence camp in Batticaloa town.
Residents said the barrage reverberated so heavily that the windowpanes of some houses in the neighbourhood of the camps were shattered.
Sources said that the heavy shelling could have caused a lot of damage to villages in the LTTE controlled region west of the lagoon and that many civilians may have been injured. They said the number of civilian casualties will be known only when the SLA opens the access road to the town today.
However, civilians from the Tiger controlled region of Paduvankarai, west of Batticaloa town, did not come to Batticaloa town this morning because the SLA, PLOTE and the Razeek group have stationed themselves at the Ayithiyamalai Road one kilometre from the Vavunathivu army camp.
The army and the paramilitary groups are not allowing civilians from the western sector to pass beyond that point. No further information is available about the operation on the Aayithiyamalai road due to this Batticaloa sources said.
Meanwhile the Sri Lankan Army ordered the residents today to remove garbage heaps and makeshift fences from the sides of the Trincomalee road up to the Pilayaradi junction in Batticaloa.
This order comes in the wake of the recent attacks by the LTTE on convoys using this road.
The army has ordered all the walls on both sides of the Trincomalee Road to be reduced to a height of four feet.
The reasons for these orders is to make sure that bombs or the LTTE cannot hide behind the walls. The army has said that people should not stand on the streets or behind the walls when a convoy is going, sources said.