SLA vacates camps north of Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Sunday, 07 May 2000, 13:17 GMT]
The Sri Lankan army vacated two key camps north of Batticaloa on Friday. The pull out was acknowledged in the situation report put out today the Special Media Information Centre set up under the regulations of the Public Security Act.

"Local residents at Vakarai have complained to the Police that the LTTE is not allowing Muslim fishermen to do fishing. The terrorists have also assaulted some civilians who have been evacuated to hospital for treatment" the statement said, indicating that the Tigers have moved into the coastal village and its environs.

The Sri Lankan army maintained a strong presence in Vakarai, 64 kilometers north of Batticaloa, after it recaptured this coastal village from the Tigers on June 22 1998.

The SLA had a large camp in the heart of the Vakarai (pronounced Vaaharai) and another by the bridge at Panichchankerni on the approach road to the village. Both camps were under the 23-2 brigade based in Valaichenai.

The army advanced from Vakarai on September 1, 1999 and took Kathiraveli, 15 kilometers further north on the coast and then vacated the camp two months later on November 6.

The SLA believed at the time that the Tigers were sending a large number of troops recruited in Batticaloa to fight in the Vanni by sea from the Vakarai coast. Therefore the army took control of Vakarai in a bid to stop the Liberation Tigers from boosting their manpower in the Vanni with troops from Batticaloa.

The SLA is currently at Kirumichchai junction 17 kilometers north of Valaichenai on the coastal road to Vakarai. Residents said that the army might pull out of its Kirumichchai junction camp as well this week.

Meanwhile, two Tigers were injured this morning around 8.30 a.m. when they walked into an ambush by SLA troops near Panichchankerni.

A civilian, Nallaratnam Sothimalar, 45, was wounded in the cross fire. She was taken to the Batticaloa hospital later in the day.

 

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