Casualties mount as LTTE maintain control of key town

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 11 June 1997, 23:59 GMT]
As the battle for control of a key town in the northern Vanni mainland continued, the casualties are rising. Reports from Thandikulam say Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was still in control of some parts of Nochimoddai and the Sri Lankan military was massing troops for a counter offensive.

Thandikulam offensive The LTTE press release issued to the media yesterday said that they had lost 50 of their troops in the ferocious counter offensive launched on the government held town. The Sri Lankan government however said that the LTTE suffered more casualties but reports coming from Vavuniya, 260 kms north of Colombo suggest that the LTTE offensive was successful in blunting the Sri Lankan military offensive.

Other sources said that LTTE also has captured two long range artillery pieces newly brought to the Thandikulam base but this was rejected by Sri Lankan military officials who said that three such guns were destroyed by the government forces to prevent them from falling into the LTTE's hands. However, the Sri Lankan government made similar claims during the Mullaitivu military debacle, where more than 1400 Sri Lankan soldiers were killed, only to discover that the LTTE had captured them.

Earlier, the LTTE said that it had destroyed two ammunition storage depots and five tanks. This was also confirmed by the Sri Lankan military sources. The total damage to the military complex was not known as the Sri Lankan government has imposed a tight censorship on all news items coming from the war zone and also prevents any independent journalists from visiting the area.

Tuesday's fighting was the bloodiest counter offensive by the LTTE, since the recent government offensive began. The Sri Lankan government launched operation 'Jaya Sikuru' ("Sure Victory") into the LTTE held territory to open the 60 kms long Main Supply Route (MSR) to Jaffna peninsula.

The Tigers intensified their campaign for a Tamil Homeland and for the right of Self-determination in the Island's north and east after 1983 riots. The war has claimed the lives of more than 50,000 Tamil civilians in the past 14 years and has made more than 750,000 Tamils homeless.

 

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