Sri Lankan troops battled Tamil Tiger rebels in the northern Jaffna peninsula and continued to mount pressure on the rebels fighting to prevent the fall of their ‘political capital’ of Kilinochchi, defence sources said Saturday.
The ministry of defence said the troops deployed in the Kilaly area in Jaffna had confronted cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on three occasions Friday. The deep lagoon in Kilaly, lying on the west of the Jaffna-Kandy main highway, divides the Wanni mainland from the northern peninsula.
Claiming the LTTE had suffered "heavy casualties" during the clashes, the ministry said that troops in the Jaffna theatre "are gradually expanding their domination over the open territory that lies in front of them".
"Sri Lanka Army has deployed three divisions on three frontiers – Nagarkovil, Muhamalai and Kilaly. Troops in mid November shifted their mode of operations from active defence to offensive and captured the first line of defence of the LTTE cadres," the defence ministry said.
Over the past two years, the ground troops and the LTTE have fought several fierce battles in Nagarkovil, Muhamalai and Kilali axis that borders the areas controlled by both sides.
The LTTE has lost all its access to the high seas on the western coastal belt of the country, after the military recaptured the western coastal line from Mannar upto Pooneryn.
Despite bad weather and heavy LTTE resistance, Sri Lankan troops advancing in several directions were said to be operating on the outskirts of Kilinochchi town, lying 350 km north of here.
A state media report Saturday said the troops advancing towards Kilinochchi along the Kandy-Jaffna (A-9) main highway have secured control of two more rebel-held towns – Puliyankulam and Kanakarayankulam – Thursday and Friday.
"With the capture of the A-9 road from Omanthai to Mankulam, troops are now dominating the 45-km stretch of the A-9 road from Omanthai to Kokavil north. They are now in a position to reach the Kilinochchi battlefront through A-9," the state-run Daily News quoted military officials as saying.