The Sri Lankan military authorities Friday said their forces have occupied the strategic town of Ki’linochchi in Vanni, situated 320 km north of Colombo. The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has entered a virtual ghost town as the whole civilian infrastructure as well as the centre of the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE) had shifted further northeast. It is the first time after a decade the Sri Lankan forces have been able to take control of the town after several months of fierce fighting that has claimed hundreds of combatants on both sides of the war.
Most of the buildings in the town were partly damaged or completely destroyed by continuous air strikes and artillery barrage by the Sri Lankan forces.
Meanwhile, source close to the LTTE told TamilNet that the Tigers, who had put up heavy resistance so far, had kept their casualties as low as possible in the defensive fighting.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a televised address over the state run TV Friday at 4.15 p.m., officially claimed that the SLA had captured Ki’linochchi town. Stating that it was not a victory of South against North, Mr. Rajapaksa said: "I am telling the LTTE for the last time to lay down their arms and surrender."
12 years ago, the SLA captured the Ki’linochchi-Paranthan area from the Tigers after fighting for more than a month in 1996 after losing more than 600 soldiers. The LTTE recaptured part of the town in February 1998.
A few months later, in September 1998, the LTTE overran the Brigade Headquarters with 15 satellite camps guarded by a 15 km long defence line virtually destroying the whole establishment in a two-day long major operation code named ‘Oayaatha Alaika’l-2’ (Unceasing Waves-2). The SLA garrison in Paranthan was compromised and the Tigers destroyed a large ammunition dump within the Elephant Pass base at that time. LTTE recovered more than one thousand dead bodies of the SLA in Unceasing Waves-2 operation.