Artillery fire closes Jaffna air, sea ports - LTTE

[TamilNet, Friday, 19 May 2000, 16:03 GMT]
The Sri Lankan military has suspended operations in Jaffna's lone sea port and cancelled flights from the single airstrip on the peninsula after both came under direct artillery fire, the Liberation Tigers said Friday. The LTTE said in a statement from its London offices that its guns had hit the runway at Palali airbase and military installations at Kankesanthurai sea port. Meanwhile, advancing columns of LTTE troops captured the areas of Madduvil and Sarasali today, the organization said, adding that fighting was raging at the strategic Sarasali junction.

Following is the full text of the press release:

"Thousands of Sri Lankan troops marooned in the Jaffna peninsula faced grave logistic problems of supply as the Tamil Tigers intensified artillery bombardment on Kankesanthurai (KKS) harbour and Palaly air base, the only life lines of supply to the Sinhalese army by sea and air.

"Several Sri Lankan military personnel were killed as volleys of artillery shells fell on military positions in the KKS harbour last night and this morning causing panic and chaos among government troops. As a consequence the government suspended operations in the harbour and cancelled all civilian and military traffic.

"The air base and military installations at Palaly came under intense artillery assault for the third day today. Military positions and the runway have been hit regularly posing grave danger to air traffic. Scores of soldiers have been killed and injured in the artillery barrage.

"In the meantime, columns of heavily armed Tiger commandos who overran military bases at Kaithady yesterday advanced further deep into Chavakachcheri sector last night bringing vast tracts of territory under their control. Large areas of Madduvil and Sarasali have fallen to the LTTE. Heavy fighting is still raging at the strategically crucial Sarasali junction.

"In a meticulously planned pincer movement, the LTTE fighting formations are encircling Chavakachcheri town, the capital of Thenmarachi division where several thousands of troops are encamped. The LTTE has been appealing to the Tamil civilians in the Chavakachcheri sector to move to areas of safety."

 

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