Tigers breach Omanthai defences
[TamilNet, Monday, 04 August 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The LTTE confirmed on Sunday that their forces had launched an attack on Sri Lankan defences at Omanthai. Over a hundred members of Sri Lanka's security forces are reported killed, as well as 126 Tamils when the Tigers broke into the fortifications, and intense fighting followed. This is the third major operation the Tigers have launched on Sri Lanka's biggest offensive in the Tamil homelands.
The LTTE in a statement today that their attack started at 10.30 on
Friday night, and fighting was said to have continued until 6am the
following morning. Arms and large stocks of ammunition were captured from
The LTTE said that their forces had breached the heavily defended
fortifications at Omanthai. This Tamil town was captured by the Sri
Lankan army after heavy fighting about two months ago. Since then, the
deserted town (residents had fled due to the indiscriminate Sri Lankan
shelling that preceded the ground offensive) had been turned into a major
The Sri Lankan army has confirmed the LTTE offensive, but claims to have
killed at least two hundred Tigers, while admitting to the loss of 67.
However, the Sri Lankan government routinely exaggerates Tamil casualty
figures, while playing down its own to maintain morale among the
troops and the general Sinhala public.
The Sri Lankan government has banned reporters from entering the Tamil
homelands, thereby facilitating the manipulation of 'news' from the
region, and preventing the verification of its claims.
The Sri Lankan army claims to have recovered the bodies of 107 Tamil
fighters, but the Colombo based Sunday Times weekly said its military
contacts admitted only 45 Tamil bodies had been recovered when the
government claim was issued.
The Sri Lankan army also claims that the LTTE attacks were repulsed, but
this is standard declaration issued after any Tiger attack. Somewhat
paradoxically, the army also said that one Tiger unit 'was allowed to come
in and then surrounded'.
This attack is the third major operation conducted by the Tigers against
the Sri Lankan operation 'Jaya Sikiru'. The first attack took place in
early June at Thandikulum, deep behind government lines, the Tigers
smashed the HQ of the 55 Brigade, killing over 300 Sinhalese troops,
while losing 80 of their own troops.
The second counter-attack took place in late June, at Periyamadu when a
newly built fire-base was overrun and a hundred soldiers killed for the
loss of 85 Tigers. In this attack, an artillery piece was captured, along
with 300 shells, bringing the total number of heavy guns in the LTTE
arsenal up to at least five.
Operation 'Jaya Sikiru' has struggled to maintain headway against fierce
LTTE resistance and the LTTE counter attacks have slowed the operation
considerably. The three month old operation has covered less than a
third of its intended ground and much of the area occupied by the Sri
Lankan army has not been secured as the SLA does not have enough troops.
An LTTE official admitted that casualties in the latest attack had been
higher than in the previous attacks, but said that Omanthai had been
extremely heavily fortified, yet had been penetrated. "No Sri Lankan
position can be considered secure. We will endeavor to attack Sri Lankan
military concentrations at every opportunity".