Puliyankulum battle continues

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 27 August 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The Sri Lankan army's latest attempt to capture the small town of Puliyankulum continued into its second week yesterday. Fierce fighting was reported from the area as LTTE units fought off repeated Sri Lankan assaults. The SLA is said to have suffered heavy casualties according to reports from the government held town of Vavuniya.

In continued heavy fighting yesterday, the Sri Lankan army launched another twin pronged attack on Puliyankulum town. The first thrust was launched from Puliyankulum railway station, whilst the other came from opposite side of the town. Both were said to have been repulsed by the Tamil Tiger defenders.
LTTE Fighters
Tamil Tigers    Photo: TN Archives

At least 25 Sri Lankan solders were killed and over 100 injured. 9 Tamil Tigers are also said to have died in yesterday's fighting.

The Tigers have destroyed at least 1 Sri Lankan battle tank and severely damaged another 2 in fierce resistance staged from bunkers and trenches. The LTTE destroyed at least 3 SLA tanks and badly damaged 4 others whilst repulsing other Sri Lankan assaults on Puliyankulum last week.

The LTTE have not issued their formal battle reports so far.

map_puliyankulam.gifSLA units located south of Puliyankulum launched a fierce assault to capture the town this morning. Thousands of troops backed by tanks, helicopter gunships and artillery advanced from their positions two miles south of the town. Heavy fighting followed when the Sri Lankans ran into LTTE defences.

The determined LTTE resistance has prompted the Sri Lankans to call up further reinforcements from their positions in Omanthai, several miles to the south of the current battle zone. Several thousand Sri Lankan soldiers are already deployed against the few hundred Tigers in Puliyankulum.

The LTTE launched a ferocious assault on Omanthai a few weeks ago, killing 135 Sri Lankan personnel and losing 126 of their own fighters, and the Sri Lankans are wary of weakening the newly constructed defences.

Several hundred policemen drafted into defensive roles around Omanthai have refused to take up their posts, and the Sri Lankans are reported to be considering the deployment of female police officers in a combat role, in an attempt to free up troops for offensive operations in Puliyankulum.

In related news from the area, the Sri Lankan military is preventing the movement of civilians across the no man's land between areas controlled by the Sinhalese troops and the LTTE. Turned away from the official transition points, Tamil civilians are risking their lives by crossing at other places, holding white flags aloft.


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