Tigers capture key naval base - radio

[TamilNet, Sunday, 12 December 1999, 09:18 GMT]
The Voice of Tigers Radio (VoT) said today that the Liberation Tigers have captured the Sri Lanka Army camps at Vettrilaikerni and Kaddaiakaadu, east of Elephant Pass.

According to the radio the Tigers captured the large coastal camp of Vettrilaikerni after overrunning Kaddaiakaadu, on the eastern perimeter of the Elephant Pass base, last evening.

Sri Lanka Army cum Navy camp at Vettrilakerni was considered a major naval base, strategically situated between Trincomalee and Point Pedro, to monitor the island's north-eastern coast, Sri Lankan defence analysts said. It was also an important supply base, they added.

With the fall of Kaddaikadu and Vettilakerni, the gateway to Vadamaradchi East has come under the control of the Liberation Tigers, the sources added.

The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence has not officially made any statement regarding the reports on Vettrilaikerni and Kaddaiakaadu.

The LTTE said in a statement yesterday that it was laying siege to the Elephant Pass base.

The Sri Lanka Army said yesterday that over 200 Tigers were killed in the fighting. The Tigers, however, said the claim was part of the malicious disinformation campaign of the Sri Lankan government "to prop up the declining morale of the Sinhala soldiers and to cheat the Sinhala populace". The LTTE said it had lost 15 fighters so far.

Meanwhile, SLA sources in Jaffna said yesterday that 150 SLA soldiers had been killed, of which the bodies of 60 had been flown to Colombo.

Sri Lankan defence analysts said that when the Liberation Tigers laid siege to the Elephant Pass base complex in 1991 for about 36 days the SLA captured the coastal area of Vettilakerni to land reinforcements to relieve the trapped garrison.

"The SLA was able to break the siege when additional troops were sent from Vettilakerni through Ooriyan, Mandalai and Pullavelli in a military operation codenamed 'Balavegaya'," the analysts said. "The LTTE has therefore secured this area first."

Consequent to the capture of Vettilakerni and Kaddaikadu by the SLA and SLN in 1991, about 10,000 people displaced from Aliyawalai, Uduthurai, Vathirayan and Maruthankerni have been living as refugees for the last eight years in other areas, they added.


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