A9 to Jaffna reopens

[TamilNet, Monday, 08 April 2002, 13:22 GMT]
The last closed section of the A9 highway running from Kilinochchi to Jaffna was reopened Monday in a joint ceremony by senior officers from the Sri Lankan military and the Liberation Tigers. Following the opening of the highway at Muhamalai, fifteen cadres from the LTTE's political section entered Army-controlled territory to travel to Jaffna where they are to begin work under the terms of the indefinite ceasefire signed between both sides on February 22. However, the Army prevented hundreds of civilians on both sides from crossing.

The head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Norwegian Major General Tronde Furohovde introduced the commanders from both sides at the ceremony Monday. The LTTE was represented by Col. Banu, commander of the LTTE's artillery corps, Col. Theepan and Ram, another senior officer. The Sri Lanka Army delegation was led by Major General Sisira Wijesuriya.

Although the LTTE's political team passed through, hundreds of Tamil civilians waiting to cross were unable to do so. Restlessness amongst civilians frustrated at perceived obstruction by the Army led to unrest and the SLA decided to call off further crossings, sources in Jaffna told TamilNet. Civilians are expected to begin crossing Tuesday, they added.

The SLA attempting to block the crowds that went to welcome the Liberation Tigers at Muahamalai

The opening of this last section of the A9 links the northern Jaffna peninsula with the sprawling Vanni district and the south of the island, will allow considerably easier and cheaper travel for the local population. Prior to the opening, access to and from Jaffna was by expensive sea and air transport.

The section of the A9 from Vavuniya to Kilinochchi was the target of the SLA's largest ever military offensive from May 1997 to October 1998. But Operation ëJaya Sikirui' (Victory Assured) was called off after heavy losses and the LTTE's capture of the SLA's base complex at Kilinochchi, which effectively ruled out a link up between government held territories in Vavuniya and Jaffna.

Mr. Ilamparuthi (Ancheneyar), the head of the LTTE's political wing for the Jaffna district, being caried aloft by the crowds. (Photo:TamilNet)

The Liberation Tigers who entered Jaffna Monday to start political work in the peninsula. (Photo:TamilNet)


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