SLA claims Vanni advance
[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 February 1998, 23:59 GMT]
17 soldiers were wounded and one killed when the SLA attempted to advance towards Mankulam on the A-9 highway (Vavuniya-Jaffna) yesterday, said SLA sources in Vavuniya. They said that the army has advanced about 3 kilometers towards Mankulam from Kanakarayan Kulam until last evening.
The fighting erupted on Tuesday February 10 when the army pushed ahead from Kanakarayan Kulam on the A-9. Sources said that there was fighting last night as well.
Casualties on either side was not known despite reports of heavy fighting.
SLA sources said that they would be able to take Mankulam junction soon, although, according to them, it is very heavily fortified by the Liberation Tigers.
They said it would be very hard to take the junction unless the Tigers withdraw on their own.
The SLA's operational Headquarters, however, said that government troops are now near the "gateway to the underground tunnel network in which Pirabakaran is now hiding" and that the main tunnel of the network which connected to the Mullaithivu coast was built by a Sinhala king in ancient times.
Meanwhile another report from Vavuniya said that six SLA soldiers were wounded and one killed when the tractor they were traveling in, west of Mankulam was hit by mortar shells fired by the Liberation Tigers last evening said Sri Lankan army sources in Vavuniya today.
They, however, did not specify the location.
The SLA also said that four Tigers were killed later in an ambush set by Jayasikurui troops in the same area.
10.02.98 SLA push in southern Vanni