Offensive for MSR thwarted -VoT
[TamilNet, Sunday, 02 April 2000, 17:58 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers said this evening that they thwarted a two pronged operation by the Sri Lanka army (SLA) this afternoon to attack and overrun their defences on the A9 at Muhamaalai, about 14.5 kilometers south east of Chavakachcheri. They said that a main battle tank was destroyed and another damaged when their troops counter attacked the SLA. A South African 'Buffle' fitted with .50 heavy machine gun was also captured from the army in the battle they said.
The Voice of Tigers (VoT) said in its night news broadcast today that many SLA troops were killed in the fierce fighting that erupted close to Muhamaalai this afternoon. This is the third operation by the army to recapture the segment of the A9 highway between Eluthumadduval and Pallai held by the Liberation Tigers since March 27, the radio added. The village of Muhamaalai is about 3 kilometers from Eluthumadduval in the direction of Pallai by the A9 highway.
Civilians who fled from the vicinity of Muhamaalai today said that helicopter gunships of the Sri Lanka Air Force had strafed the general area during the SLA offensive. They said that heavily armed Tigers are in Muhamaalai and nearby hamlets.
Sri Lanka's state run radio station said this afternoon that the army launched an operation code named 'Wali Sakara' today to recapture the stretch of the A9 held by the Liberation Tigers now.
The A9 highway (Kandy Road) running southeast from Jaffna town through Elephant Pass and to Vavuniya is now the only viable Main Supply Route to the peninsula's gateway garrison.
The interior road to the west of the A9 used by the SLA as an alternative supply route to the Elephant Pass base since last week is not suitable for heavy traffic and is exposed to attacks by the Liberation Tigers who have access to the terrain between the highway and the Jaffna lagoon.
The segment of the A9 held by the Tigers between Muhamaalai and Iththavil is not only a breach in the Elephant Pass garrison's MSR but an opening that enables Tigers dominating the peninsula's southeastern coast and hinterland to move into the region through which the current supply route to the Elephant Pass base winds its way to Kilali and from there to Chavakachcheri.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan military sources in Jaffna said today that the Tigers had launched a heavy barrage of artillery and mortars on the army camp at Thanangkilappu on Friday March 31 around 6.25 p.m.