UNP releases SLA casualty figures
[TamilNet, Saturday, 10 October 1998, 00:15 GMT]
(News Feature) The leader of the main Sri Lankan opposition party, Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe said in parliament today that over 1900 Sri Lanka Army (SLA) troops had been killed and 2000 wounded when the Liberation Tigers overran the Kilinochchi SLA base complex last week. Mr. Wickremasinghe's sources were said to be from SLA HQ and Military Intelligence.
Mr. Wickremasinghe said that 1250 SLA troops had been killed and over 2000 wounded between September 27 when the Tiger assault began and 29, and that by September 30, when the fighting had eased, over 1900 SLA troops had died.
The UNP leader challenged the casualty figures supplied by the government for the Kilinochchi engagement (186 killed and over 700 'missing' in action).
The Kilinochchi base had been manned by 3,500 SLA troops under a Brigadier, he said.
The UNP leader also listed some of the weapons and vehicles that he said the SLA had ëlostí at Kilinochchi, though it was not clear if these referred to items destroyed or captured by the Tigers.
The weapons included 4 artillery pieces, 2 T-55 tanks, 8 Buffel troop carriers, and 75 assorted jeeps, trucks and tractors he said.
The SLA had also lost approximately 2,500 small arms and over 2 million rounds of small arms ammunition he said, adding that the SLA had also lost over 1,000 artillery rounds.
Mr. Wickremasinghe claimed that on September 30, the LTTE had test-fired one of the artillery pieces towards Vettilaikernai, killing two SLA soldiers.
Mr. Wickremasinghe was harshly critical of the SLAís ongoing Operation Jayasikirui (Victory Assured) which began in May 1997 with a planned completion period of 4 months, but has been held up for nearly 16 months by fierce LTTE resistance and counter-attacks.
Along with a significant proportion of the SLA, 3,500 Air Force personnel, 3,000 Navy personnel and 2,000 policemen taking part in the operation, he said. The police had lost less than 75 killed, he siad.
Mr. Wickremasinghe said a total of 3,566 SLA troops had been killed and 11,200 wounded during Operation 'Jayasikurui'. 1,516 troops had been killed and 8,000 wounded in the first year of 'Jayasikirui', he added.
He said that between 2 and 3 June 1998, over 450 SLA troops had died attempting to capture Mankulam town (which the SLA said it had captured last week).
Since the war resumed in 1995, the SLA had lost 11,548 killed and 23,057 wounded he said, comparing the numbers with previous phases of the war (under a UNP government).
Between 1983 and 1988, the SLA had only lost 1,187 killed and 843 wounded, and between 1989 and 1994, 2,679 troops had been killed and 5,565 had been wounded he said
Mr. Wickremasinghe also listed some of the major battles and the losses suffered by the SLA during Operation Jayasikirui.
Between 13 and 18 May 1998, the SLA lost 5 tanks destroyed at Nedunkerni, and on 9 June 1997, the SLA lost 5 more tanks in an LTTE counter-attack at Omanthai.
When the Tigers overran the SLA artillery base at Omanthai on 25 June 1997, they destroyed 4 artillery pieces and several captured several vehicles he said.
On 1 August 1997, the Tigers attacked Rambaikulam near Omanthai, captured a large quantity of arms (details were not specified) and killed over 135 SLA troops.
On 19 August 1997, 6 SLA tanks were destroyed at Puliyakulam.
On 5 October the LTTE overran an SLA arms dump at Kathkindi killing over 100 troops and capturing the weapons store he said.
An Mi-24 gunship was destroyed by the Tigers at Karrippaddamurippu on 8 November 1997, said the UNP leader.
In a major attack on the SLA on 4 December 1997,the LTTE killed 300 troops at Kanakarayankulam, he said, while an Mi-17 helicopter was destroyed at Olumadu on 4 January 1998.
On 2 February 1998, the LTTE destroyed the Iyakachchi artillery base and on 4 March, 1998 destroyed the communications tower of the Elephant Pass SLA base, he said.
Between 2 and 3 June 1998, the SLA had lost 450 killed and 1,200 wounded along with large quantities of weapons and ammunition to the Tigers at Mankulam, he said.
Press censorship was introduced after this 'debacle', said the opposition leader.
Between June and September this year, the SLA had lost over 100 men, without any real movement forward, he said.
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