SLA battles to inch on MSR

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 April 2000, 05:37 GMT]
Two attempts by the Sri Lanka army (SLA) yesterday to assault the positions of the Liberation Tigers on the A9 highway between Eluthumadduval and Pallai, south east of Jaffna, were counter-attacked and repulsed said the Voice of Tigers (VoT) in its morning broadcast today. The SLA in Jaffna, however, claimed that Operation Walikathara was on course but progress was quite slow due to stiff resistance and the high volume of artillery and mortar fire from the Tigers. The VoT said that Tiger troops damaged a SLA main battle tank in the fighting yesterday.

The SLA had began an armoured thrust backed by an artillery barrage and air cover from the western flank of the LTTE's positions on the Main Supply Route to the Elephant Pass base around 7 a.m. in the morning yesterday the radio said.

Tiger troops had countered the thrust and, following a fierce battle, pushed the SLA back further to the west. Later in the day around 3 p.m., the SLA had launched another offensive from the eastern flank. This was also repulsed after another round of fighting, according to the radio. Twenty five SLA troopers were killed in the battle it added.

A family that came through the battle zone to seek medical aid in Chavakachcheri yesterday said that the Liberation Tigers are occupying about four kilometers of the A9 highway and its environs between Muhamaalai and Aarasakerni, a village close to the entrance of Pallai town. They claimed that the Tigers are pouring in more troops and armaments into this sector.

A senior military source in Jaffna said that dislodging the Tigers from the A9 is slow and hard mainly because they are entrenched in the well fortified defences the army had constructed for its own use earlier.

He added that the large number of mortar firing positions the Tigers appear to have established in areas they captured in the peninsula last week are a posing a major threat to concentrated advances by his troops on enemy strongholds.

The Sri Lankan President instructed the commanders of the army, air force and Navy to stay in Jaffna along with the army chief of staff Major.Gen.Lionel Balagalle to direct operations against the Tigers. Two special senior security forces co-ordinators were also sent in last week.

The Sri Lanka security forces commander for Jaffna is Maj.Gen. Chula Senivaratne, one of SLA's top commanders who received special training in the United Sates. He was also the Director of Military Intelligence before he was promoted Major General.


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