Monday, September 24, 2007

Operation in Mannar

The Army launched a limited-scale offensive utilizing the 58th Division on Monday. Small teams of infantry, also comprising Commandos, have advanced between 800 meters to one kilometer into enemy areas and have captured an LTTE bunker-line. The Army has so far recovered 13 bodies of LTTE cadres. Casualty figures of the troops stood at 20 wounded and 2 killed as of today. The operation is still continuing left of the Yoda Wewa in the area between Uylankulam and Vankalai. LTTE has deployed an assortment of troops to counter the offensive including the 'Soothiya Regiment' comprising around 150 female cadres.


Sri Lanka battles claim 27 lives: military

Heavy fighting between security forces and Tamil rebels in northern Sri Lanka has left at least 27 people dead, military officials said.

The LTTE lost at least 20 men in pre-dawn clashes Monday on the Jaffna peninsula, according to the defence ministry. Another three Tigers were killed in the Wanni region further south, it added.

Government troops were attempting to break into territory in Wanni where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) run a mini-state.

The fighting also left two security personnel, including an officer, dead and 30 soldiers wounded on Sunday. Another two were killed and 15 wounded in Jaffna early Monday, officials said.

There was no immediate word from the LTTE about its losses, which could not be confirmed independently.

The pro-rebel website said both sides traded artillery fire in the Mannar district, part of the Wanni region.

"The Sri Lanka army had suffered casualties in a ground operation launched Sunday in Thampanai area (in the Wanni)," Tamilnet said without elaborating.

The clashes came after the government's top defence official offered Sunday to halt military action in exchange for a resumption of peace talks stalled since last October.

Troops would not press ahead with an offensive if Tamil rebels agreed to talks, defence ministry secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse told a newspaper amid pressure from the island's key foreign backers to halt the carnage.

"The decision (of war or peace) is theirs and I believe they wouldn't reject this opportunity," Rajapakse told the Sunday Island newspaper.

"We'll not take advantage of the ground situation," if the Tiger rebels agree to negotiate.

Rajapakse, who is also the president's younger brother, made the comments after the United States urged Colombo to abandon a military drive.

There has been no reaction from the Tigers to Rajapakse's offer of talks.

The ethnic conflict, in which the rebels are fighting for an independent homeland for the Tamil minority on the Sinhalese majority island, has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972.