SLA denies Jaffna bases lost

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 15 December 1999, 17:10 GMT]
Major General Lionel Balagalla, the Sri Lanka Army's (SLA) chief of staff, speaking at a special press conference at the SLA Head Quarters in Colombo this afternoon denied a TamilNet report that the Liberation Tigers had captured SLA camps in Vettrilaikerny, Kaddikkadhu and Pullaveli.

He was interrupted by some journalists who said that the TamilNet report in question had only quoted a press release issued by the Liberation Tigers andf that the press release was also put out on the LTTE's official website.

Major General Lionel Balagalla agreed with them and said the facts in the LTTE's release, however, were not correct.

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Major General Lionel Balagalla (on left) and SLA's spokesman, Brigadier Sunil Tennekoon, at a special press conference at the Sri Lanka Army Head Quarters in Colombo, 15 December 1999. Photo:TamilNet
Answering a question from a journalist, Maj. Gen. Balagalle said that the SLA complex at Elephant Pass base is intact and the fighting is on the outskirts of the base.

He said though the Tigers had launched attacks in several places in the Jaffna Peninsula, the SLA has repulsed them. The chief of staff said that Iyakkachchi is under the control of the SLA.

Maj. Gen. Balagalle further said that Sri Lanka Navy did not have a base at Vettilaikerni but there was only a defence line in the area.

He added that the presidential elections will not be disrupted in the peninsula, and added though there are more than 600,00 registered voters in the peninsula, less than 400,000 live there now.

Maj.Gen. Lionel Balagalle was formerly Director of Military Intelligence, Sri Lankan Security Forces Commander for Jaffna and served as Security Forces Commander for Wanni before he was appointed Army chief of staff.

SLA's spokesman, Brigadier Sunil Tennekoon, who was also present, briefed journalists about the current situation in the northern war front.

According to him, 28 SLA soldiers were killed and 340 wounded in battles in the north between 11 and 14 December. The SLA spokesman said that according to ground troops 480 Tigers were killed in battles during that period.

He claimed that the Voice of Tigers (VoT) radio has broadcast the names of 112 Tigers killed in the fighting.

He said on 11 December, there were seven confrontations between the SLA and the Tigers at Vettrilaikerny, Kaddaikadu and Pullaveli and two engagements on the western flank of the Elephant Pass base. The ground troops were supported by the Sri Lanka Air Force and the Navy according to Brigadier Tennekoon.

He said that seven troops were killed and 142 were wounded of whom 65 had sustained minor injuries.

According to the situation report of SLA spokesman, there were 12 confrontations between the Liberation Tigers and the SLA at Thannankilapu in the Kilaly sector on December 12 in which 4 soldiers were killed and 70 wounded.

The same day the Tigers had shelled civilian areas in Chavakachcheri and nine civilians were wounded in this shelling, the spokesman said.

On Dec 13, seven confrontations took place in Vettilaikerni and Kaddaikadu and one at Kerathivu, south of Chavakachcheri in which eight soldiers were killed and 104 wounded, he said.

There were four confrontations yesterday, 2 on the western and 2 on the eastern flank of the Elephant Pass base, and nine soldiers were killed and 24 wounded in these battles, he said.

The SLA spokesman said that there is sporadic fighting in the area now.

 

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