‘Over 100 Tiger rebels killed, Mullaitivu battles reach final phase’


Colombo : Fighting between the ground troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels has left over 100 guerrillas killed and scores wounded in the past couple of days with the battles to retake the last LTTE strongholds in the northeastern Mullaitivu district reaching the final phase, the defence ministry said Sunday.

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It said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), now confined to a land stretch of less than 50 sq km, have “made several desperate attempts” to infiltrate the forward defences in Mullaitivu district.

The ministry said that the military has thwarted all efforts by the rebels, leaving over 100 LTTE cadres killed and as many injured since Friday dawn. It added that bodies of 30 rebels were recovered along with a large haul of weapons, including assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and a vehicle mounted with an anti-aircraft gun.

“The LTTE terrorists were preparing for a large-scale offensive towards the existing military defences at Palamathalan and north of Puthkkudiyiruppu, inducting over 200 cadres including suicide bombers and sea tigers,” the defence ministry said.

Following the initial thrust, it said, the guerrillas have “planned to send waves of 100 odd cadres to provide reinforcements”, adding that senior LTTE leaders such as “Bhanu, Lawrence, Soosai and few other high-profile LTTE terrorists were directly involved in master-minding the pre-emptive assault”.

“This is for the first time during recent battles that LTTE has inducted many of its ‘high profiles’ to the battlefront. Yet, timely detection and precise intelligence information proved decisive as the terrorists’ offensive waves were received with intense military counter attacks,” the defence ministry said.

It, however, did not say anything about the loss to its own troops.

There was no reaction in this regard from the rebel outfit, which has been fighting to carve out a separate state over the past quarter century.