Offensive exposes Jaffna's 'soft underbelly'
[TamilNet, Sunday, 14 May 2000, 16:02 GMT]
Sri Lankan Air Force jets continued bombing raids on the positions of the Tiger troops holding the Ariyalai and Thanangkilappu sectors to the south east of Jaffna town. However, the situation report put out by the Sri Lankan government's Media Centre today indicated that the Tigers are active in these sectors despite the heavy bombing.
The Media Centre report said "sporadic mortar and artillery fire was directed by the LTTE towards the security forces defences at Colombuthurai."
"The situation report is an acknowledgement on the part of the Media Centre that the bombing raids on Ariyalai, Thanangkilappu and Pooneryn have neither destroyed the LTTE's supply route from the Vanni mainland nor stopped the Tigers from continuing their attacks on SLA positions in the Jaffna town" said a defence analyst in Colombo.
The strategic Jaffna lagoon coast from the Kerathivu jetty to Columbuthurai east came under the LTTE's control in the latest phase of Operation Unceasing Waves III offensive into Jaffna last week.
The Liberation Tigers took control of the Kerathivu jetty and about six kilometers of the road to Navatkuly through Thanangkilappu in the first phase of their general offensive into the Jaffna peninsula in December 1999.
The SLA was unable to dislodge the Tiger troops that were holding this beach head despite heavy bombing, sustained artillery attacks and several ground operations for more than three months.
The land mass between the A9 and the Jaffna lagoon coast from Kerathivu to Columbuthurai was held by two SLA camps at Thanangkilappu and Kovilakandy. The defences of the former were beefed up by the SLA since december last year to prevent the LTTE troops from pushing north west on the road from Kerathivu to Navatkuly and to stop them from turning north east to Chavakachcheri along the branch road.
The destruction of these camps in the latest phase of Op.Unceasing Waves has laid bare the peninsula's soft under belly to the LTTE's military power on the Vanni mainland, a defence analyst in Colombo pointed out. "This does not portend well for the defender's of Jaffna town and Chavakachcheri in the days ahead" he said.
Meanwhile, an SLA trooper was shot dead by suspected operatives of the Liberation Tigers in Inuvil, north of Jaffna town yesterday.