Attempt to surround Mankulam abandoned
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 03 June 1998, 23:59 GMT]
An attempt by the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) to surround the strategic Mankulam junction from the northern direction is said have been temporarily abandoned, said sources today.
The SLA troops are reported to have aborted the operation in the Ampakamam area, said unconfirmed reports from the forward areas.
However, sporadic fighting is reported between the Tigers and the SLA engaged in small scale operations in the general area of Mankulam, said the sources.
Ampakamam, is 7 km north of Karu Patta Murippu, an interior village on the Mankulam-Mullaitheevu road, 10 km east of strategic Mankulam junction.
Meanwhile, body of a SLA soldier killed the in the early hours yesterday in the Mankulam sector had been brought to Anuradhapura hospital around 6.30 a.m. yesterday.
Ten soldiers wounded in yesterday's fighting were also brought yesterday evening, said sources in Anuradhapura.
However, contrary to its usual practice, the SLA has not made much use of the Anuradhapura hospital for the casualties it sustained in the Vanni fighting said sources.
Yesterday, the Sri Lankan Deputy Defence Mister, Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte visited forward areas of Operation Jayasikurui to assess the current situation, sources said. This is his second visit within a week, they said.
Meanwhile, the Thinamurasu, a Tamil Daily, quoting Sri Lankan defence sources, said today that twenty two SLA soldiers, including a captain are reported missing following the fierce fighting between the SLA and the Liberation Tigers (LTTE) near Ampakamam that broke out on May 28.
The Liberation Tigers had fired a mortar and artillery barrage at the soldiers advancing from Ampakamam and then engaged in pitched battles with them, inflicting heavy casualties, the paper said.
The SLA column split into two groups under the LTTE's counter attack and the Tigers surrounded on of the groups and attacked them. Twenty two troops in one of the groups have been reported missing since, the paper said.
The army suffered heavily in this fighting, and the clearing operation went on for two more days, said the paper, again quoting defence officials in Colombo.
Earlier, the LTTE had confirmed these events in a press release and said they had killed 50 SLA troops. The bodies of 20 were recovered by the Tigers of which 9 were handed back via the ICRC. The rest were too badly damaged and were cremated 'with full military honours' said the LTTE.
01.06.98 Mankulam fighting continues - SLA
31.05.98 9 SLA bodies exchanged through ICRC
31.05.98 50 SLA troops killed - VoT
29.05.98 SLA claims early success
29.05.98 Tigers say army advance in deep trouble
28.05.98 Jayasikirui resumes