SLA builds bulwark as Tigers advance
[TamilNet, Monday, 01 May 2000, 12:24 GMT]
The Operational headquarters of Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence (MoD) acknowledged that the Sri Lanka army was pushed out of Pallai, Pulopalai and Iththaavil by the Liberation Tigers yesterday in a press release issued Monday afternoon. The SLA, according to the release, was forced to withdraw with heavy casualties. Sources in Jaffna, meanwhile, said that the SLA is constructing a massive bulwark to stall the advancing Tigers.
The MoD release said " On 30 April 2000 during daytime fierce fighting erupted in Pallai north of Elephant Pass, ahead of the main defence line now being constructed after the vacation of the Elephant Pass camp. The delay positions which were deployed were engaged by terrorists simultaneously with a heavy volume of artillery and mortar fire."
"The troops manning positions in Ittavil northeast of Pallai were engaged by the terrorists from north and south at the same time. They were forced to withdraw towards Vepatukerni with a large number of casualties. Similarly troops deployed in Pulopallai and Pallai too withdrew in contact with enemy after receiving heavy casualties".
"Troops are now deployed in their delaying positions in areas north of Pallai ahead of the main defence line."
"During this withdrawal in contact 01 officer and 13 soldiers were killed in action. 14 officers and 222 soldiers were wounded in action."
Vempadukerni is a hamlet close to Eluthumadduval.
The Sri Lanka army is now engaged in hurriedly constructing a massive bulwark with sand, mud and thousands of coconut and Palmyrah palms that are being felled for the purpose in the northern parts of the Thenmaradchi division said sources in Jaffna who made brief contact with Colombo today on the few telephone lines working in the peninsula that are linked through the Sri Lanka Telecom tower in Mannar.
They said that the troops withdrawn from Elephant Pass and Iyakkachchi have been encamped in schools at Usan, Varani, Nagar Kovil and Manatkaadu behind the bulwark which cuts across the Thenmaradchi division in a southwest to northeast line from Kilaly to Nagar Kovil.
The SLA has deployed hundred of troops ahead of the bulwark to delay the advancing fighting formations of the Liberation Tigers in a bid to buy adequate time for completing the construction work of this defence line.
Sri Lanka government troops which were manning a heavily defended position in Iththaavil on the A9 highway near Eluthumadduval sustained heavy casualties Sunday when they were caught in a swift pincer movement by the LTTE's fighting formations that captured Pallai yesterday and the Liberation Tigers who were already entrenched at Muhamaalai.
Muhamaalai is a kilometer northwest of Iththaavil on the A9.
Sri Lankan Air Force Kfir jets and helicopter gunships bombed and strafed the general area between Eluthumadduval and Pallai today sources in Jaffna said.
The Jaffna sources said that the SLA has vacated its camps in Sanganai, Chulipuram, Navali, Vaddukoddai, Kantharodai and Masiapiddi in the Waligamam division of the Jaffna peninsula.
Civilians in these areas have ransacked these SLA camps and sentry points and the SLA checkpoint in Chulipuram was burnt by unidentified persons they said.