Tigers rout Sri Lankan advance

[TamilNet, Monday, 06 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Heavy fighting between troops of the Liberation Tigers and the Sri Lankan army which erupted southwest of Mullaithivu at Manavaalan Patta Murippu yesterday (Sunday Oct.5) continues. Although the intensity of the fighting has come down today, the army is expecting a major counter attack by the Liberation Tigers on its hastily organized defenses at Manvaalan Patta Murippu on the Mankulam - Ottisuddan road.

A major offensive was launched by the 53 division of the Sri Lankan army to outflank the defences of the Liberation Tigers at Puliyankulam on Sunday. Troops of the 53 division tried to take control of the eastern approach road to Mankulam which runs west from Ottisuddan in the Mullaithivu district.

The aim of Div.53 was to take control of the old Tamil hamlet of Manavaalan Patta Murippu on the Ottisuddan road.

Military analysts said that the control of the hamlet would give the army easy access to the strategic town of Mankulam. The government's strategy is to deny the Liberation Tigers this vital approach to the Olukkulam-Ottisuddan access road to Mullaithivu which branches off from the Vavuniya-Jaffna Main Supply Route.

The other two access roads to Mullaithivu begin from Paranthan to the north of Mankulam and Puliyankulam to its south.

ltte_soldiers_2.jpg
LTTE troops in the Vanni
The Sri Lankan army's current strategy in the Vanni is the direct result of a meeting that 'General' Anuruddha Ratwatte, deputy minister for defense had with its top brass on September 15. The 'General' had demanded that the commanders in the northern theatre of operations should soon show tangible results on Operation 'Jeya Sikurui' which had got bogged down near Puliyankulam.

As the Sri Lankan troops moved to the southern side of the approach road to Mankulam from the direction of Naiynamadu, a fierce attack was launched by the Liberation Tigers on the middle columns of the advancing Sri Lankan formations. The offensive was in utter disarray for a few hours as a result of the attack.

Two helicopters were damaged. A pilot in one was killed and another was wounded when the second helicopter was hit. One Sri Lankan military truck was completely destroyed and another was captured by the Liberation Tigers along with an unspecified quantity of weapons.

More than 180 Sri Lankan troops have been wounded. Although the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence said only 34 Sinhala soldiers were killed, 8 missing and 76 wounded, initial reports from Vavuniya indicate that the death toll among them and those missing in action might be as high as 60.

Sources in Vavuniya say that the casualties on the Sri Lankan side appear to be mounting, judging from the number of Sri Lankan air force flights to and from the battle zone, ferrying out the seriously wounded to Anuradhapura and Colombo. Military ambulances continued to scream down the main highway in Sri Lanka's capital city.

 

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