Tigers repulse SLA assault
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
In heavy fighting on Tuesday, Tamil Tiger forces drove back a renewed Sri Lankan army assault in the Puliyankulam area. SLA units which had bypassed Puliyankulam were advancing on Kanakarayankulam when LTTE forces counter-attacked, inflicting heavy casualties and capturing a large quantity of weaponry.
On Tuesday, SLA forces had bypassed the village of Puliyankulam where Tiger resistance is continuing, and pushed on towards Kanakarayankulam, a few miles further north. However, at 9.45 in the morning, LTTE forces had launched an attack in strength on the SLA's flank.
Pitched fighting had continued until 1.50pm, when the Sri Lankans decided to abort the assault. The LTTE say they killed over 50 Sri Lankan soldiers whilst losing 13 of their own fighters. The LTTE also say that the number of Sri Lankan wounded is "exceedingly high".
The Tigers have recovered the bodies of 13 Sri Lankan soldiers from the battlefield. It is expected that these will be handed back via the Red Cross, in keeping with customary practice.
By contrast, the Sri Lankan government says that it only lost 19 troops and said it 'estimated' that 50 Tigers were killed.
The Sri Lankan military routinely exaggerate their claims of enemy dead whilst playing down their own losses. Independent verification of casualty claims is not possible as the government has banned reporters from the war zone for over two years.
A large quantity of arms and ammunition was abandoned by the retreating Sri Lankans. The Tigers have recovered 10 AK-LMG (light machine guns), 19 T-56 assault rifles with 109 magazines, two RPG-7 rocket launchers and a pair of 40mm grenade launchers.
The Tigers also captured a staggering 14,900 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition for the assault rifles, as well as three thousand rounds of linked ammunition for the machine guns, 59 RPG-7 rounds, 35 60mm mortar shells, and 40 grenades.
|LTTE troops join a fire-fight|
This is the heaviest fighting in the Puliyankulam area for many weeks. In a similar incident on 10th September, Sri Lankan troops who had advanced to Puthur came under Tiger attack at night. 40 Sri Lankan soldiers were killed and over 250 wounded in the ensuing rout.
In recent months Puliyankulam and its environs have become the epicenter of the island's conflict. The Sri Lankan army launched a massive operation to capture the A9 road that links Vavuniya to Kilinochchi in May.
Stiff resistance by the LTTE has slowed the operation, code named 'Jaya Sikuru' ('Victory Assured' in Sinhalese) to a crawl. The Tigers defending the Puliyankulam area (which is astride the contested road) have delayed the SLA for over two months so far.