More than 1000 SLA wounded in aborted offensive

[TamilNet, Thursday, 26 April 2001, 06:37 GMT]
At least 1058 Sri Lanka army troops were wounded in Wednesday's massive onslaught against the positions of the Liberation Tigers in the Jaffna peninsulaís southern sector, military sources in Jaffna said. A large number of these were airlifted to government hospitals in Colombo and Anurudhapura. Many of the seriously wounded were also sent to the government general hospitals in Jayawardhanapura and Ragama near Colombo. Others have been admitted to provincial hospitals, according to medical sources. About 100 more are expected to be airlifted to Colombo later today for treatment, the sources added. Casualties started rising when several advancing SLA troop concentrations were hit by heavy artillery fire from the LTTEís gun positions in the rear, military sources in Jaffna said.

The Sri Lanka army launched the three brigade strong Operation Gini Khela from Muhamalai- Eluthumadduval-Kilali axis at 5.30 a.m. in the morning Wednesday and called it off around 2.30 p.m. in the afternoon when it ran into fierce resistance by LTTE troops.

The SLA, however, claimed that it had managed to advance 1.25 miles into the area held by the Liberation Tigers south of Muhamalai. But the Liberation Tigers said that SLA troops that advanced were pushed back and are still under attack. Several armoured vehicles, including a main battle tank were damaged in the fighting, sources in Jaffna said.

Op. Gini Khela was preceded and backed by massive barrages from 40-barrel rocket launchers and heavy artillery. Sources in Jaffna said that Sri Lanka Air Force jets were on constant bombing raids on the positions of the Liberation Tigers from the early hours of the morning Wednesday. The Navy too was engaged in bombarding the coast east of Elephant Pass, according to an SLA press release last night.


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