Heavy fighting in the Vanni

[TamilNet, Friday, 05 June 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Heavy fighting was reported in separate locations in the Vanni today. Pitched battles are said to have taken place today in the Ampakamam, Moonru Murippu and Kilinochchi regions, when Sri Lanka Army (SLA) thrusts were repulsed by the Liberation Tigers (LTTE). The Tigers also said in the Vanni today that a major SLA assault in the Kilinochchi region yesterday was repulsed with heavy casualties.

Over one hundred Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers were killed and several hundred wounded when the Liberation Tigers (LTTE) launched a fierce counter attack on the SLA which tried to advance in two directions towards the southern end of the Kilinochchi town yesterday, said the LTTE in the Vanni today.

The LTTE said that the twin pronged operation was launched at 4.30 a.m. from the SLA's Elephant Pass and Karadippokku. SLA troops backed by tanks and airpower met stiff LTTE resistance and the fighting went on till 4.30 p.m. said the Tigers.

The Tigers said that their fighters had surrounded and attacked the advancing soldiers, inflicting heavy casualties and forcing the SLA to withdraw. The bodies of more than fifty SLA soldiers have been recovered and a clearing operation was continuing today the Tigers said.

The SLA sources said that more than 150 Tigers were killed in the fighting yesterday and put their own losses at 32 killed, including 15 from the Vijayabha infantry regiment.

However sources close to the LTTE in Europe, when contacted by TamilNet, said that 42 Tigers had been killed in two days of fighting at Kilinochchi.

A renewed SLA thrust in Kilinochchi today was also repulsed said the sources. This fresh SLA thrust had been along the Kandy road and through Thirunagar they said. The SLA is believed to have suffered heavy casualties said the sources. The LTTE is said to have captured over 50 assault rifles and 4 mortars from the SLA here.

The sources also said that the LTTE had repulsed SLA advances in Ampakamam and Moonru Murippu today. The SLA is said to have used armour and a heavy mortar barrage in the Ampakamam fighting.

At Ampakamam, the initial SLA assault, launched at 10.20 a.m. was repulsed almost immediately said the sources. The SLA had regrouped and attempted to advance again at 10.30 a.m., but had been beaten back again said the sources.

Ten SLA soldiers were killed and the bodies of six were recovered by the LTTE said the sources. They would probably be returned along with those recovered near Kilinochchi they said. Two Tigers were killed at Ampakamam said the sources.

Another SLA advance at Moonro Murippu towards Mankulam at dawn today was also repulsed said the sources. One Tiger was killed while SLA casualties are not known, they said.

The Sri Lankan President imposed strict censorship on the reporting of military news today. This, along with the long standing ban on correspondents entering the war zone has made independent verification of events there impossible.


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