Deputy Defence Minister in Vavuniya
[TamilNet, Thursday, 04 November 1999, 16:29 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Deputy Defence Minister, General Anuruddha Ratwatte visited the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) garrison town of Vavuniya today to discuss with service commanders the situation in the Vanni war front, said sources. Meanwhile the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence (MoD) said SLA troops had "fallen back tactically" from Oddusuddan and Nedunkerni.
The Deputy Defence minister also visited wounded SLA soldiers admitted to Victoria Military hospital and General Hospital in Anuradhapura the sources added.
LTTE sources in London told TamilNet that their units were continuing to press forward in areas near Oddusuddan town, which they captured on Wednesday.
The sources said the Tigers were also engaged in heavy fighting near Puliyankulam, a strategic village on the A9 highway, having captured Nedunkerni on the Puliyankulam-Mullaitivu road.
The Sri Lankan MoD admitted heavy fighting was ongoing and said its forces were regrouping. SLA officials earlier told TamilNet that SLA units had pulled out several areas in the eastern Vanni.
The text of the MoD press release follows:
"A large number of security forces personnel have regrouped and prevented further LTTE efforts of infiltration into the areas south of Oddusuddan, Nedunkerni and Ottiyamalai."
"After heavy confrontations security forces have fallen back tactically to areas south of Oddusuddan and Nedunkerni. In the meantime heavy fighting broke out in Ampakamam area on 03 November 1999 and the security forces have prevented major LTTE efforts to breach the defences. The troops who were operating in general areas south of Nedunkerni and Oddusuddan, have conducted a number of limited operations causing heavy casualties to the LTTE."
"As per the information received so far 107 security forces personnel are confirmed to have been killed and a total of 202 wounded during the confrontations that took place over the last 48 hours. Terrorists continue to fire heavy volume of artillery and mortars to security force positions in the general areas of Ampakamam and south of Mankulam. Estimated number of terrorists killed so far during the confrontations is 115. Fighting continues."
"Information centres have been established at the following places to facilitate the family members of the troops who are involved in the on going operations seek information as required by them:
Army Head Quarters - Directorate of Personnel Administration Tel.422635
Army Head Quarters - Directorate of Recruiting Tel.440299
Army Head Quarters - directorate of Provost Marshal Tel.424818
Military Hospital Colombo Tel.431301 and 327638
Division HQ Panagoda Tel.855017 Division HQ
Anuradhapura Tel.025-22701 Division HQ
Trincomalee Tel.026-22428 and 026-22340."