Mannakulam survivors returned

[TamilNet, Saturday, 06 December 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Sources close to the SLA said today that the Mannakulam counterattack by the LTTE was one of the greatest setbacks for the Sri Lankan army in the island's separatist war for this was the first time so many of its elite commandos have been killed.

The SLA said today that 24 soldiers of those reported missing in Thursday's vicious battle returned last night.

At least 148 elite commandos who led the two pronged SLA offensive to take the strategic Kanakarayan Kulam - Mankulam segment of the Vavuniya - Jaffna road were killed in the Mannakulam battle said Sri Lankan army sources this afternoon. 24 of others are still missing.

The ICRC handed over the bodies of 110 soldiers to the Sri Lankan army around 11.30 a.m. today at Vavuniya. A Sri Lankan MoD communique states that army representatives in Vavuniya are examining the bodies to determine the identity of the bodies.

"Most probably they are dead and lying somewhere in the jungle" said an informed source in the SLA today.

The SLA has had to throw an increasing number of its elite commandos into the limited as well as full scale offensives to capture part of the Main Supply Route to Jaffna as its infantry regiments were finding it extremely difficult to push ahead into LTTE held territory with limited air support and in the face of the unprecedented use of artillery fire by the Liberation Tigers.

The SLAF is very wary of flying into the war zone following recent intelligence reports that the Liberation Tigers had acquired a powerful type of surface to air missile.


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