SLA troops fall back
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 April 1998, 23:59 GMT]
SLA sources in Vavuniya said this morning that the troops of Operation Jayasikurui had attempted to advance in the direction of Mankulam from their positions at Olumadu yesterday have had to make a tactical withdrawal of their forward positions for about a kilometer to the east due to heavy artillery and mortar counter attacks by the Liberation Tigers.
An SLA officer in Vavuniya who did not want to be identified, said that troops of Operation Jayasikurui are now trying to consolidate their positions further east of Olumadu, more than 750 meters from the positions they had held earlier.
He said that unprecedented casualties and the possibility of the Liberation Tigers overrunning some of their forward positions had forced troops to make the withdrawal last evening.
Olumadu is about four kilometers east of Mankulam on the Mankulam-Mullaitheevu Road.
Yesterday, the Liberation Tigers announced in the Wanni, that they had beaten back a three pronged SLA assault on Mankulam, destroying 3 tanks and damaging three others.
Mankulam and its environs have been the focus of much of the recent fighting in the Wanni. The SLA has been poised outside Mankulam for several weeks, however several attempts to capture the town have been beaten back by the Liberation Tigers.
The latest clash comes after a comparative lull in the fighting.
The Sri Lankan army has been battling to open the A9 highway, which runs through the Vanni, for almost a year. Mankulam is a major town astride the route.