|Delay in capturing Kilinochchi|
|Friday, 26 December 2008|
By Jamila Najmuddin
The Government yesterday admitted that there would be a delay in capturing the LTTE administrative capital of Kilinochchi owing to several civilians still remaining in the outskirts of the town.
Defence Spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that a total of 150,000 civilians still remained trapped by the LTTE in and around Kilinochchi which is why President Mahinda Rajapaksa had sent a 'strong word' to the forces to capture their target while maintaining a zero civilian casualty.
"The President is very watchful that no civilian is hurt in the ongoing battle. This is why the crawl to Kilinochchi by the security forces has been very slow," Minister Rambukwella said.
Stressing that a time frame could not be given for the capture of the LTTE capital, Minister Rambukwella however added that that the Army had captured some key areas in the outskirts of Kilinochchi which is why its mission to defeat the Tigers in the administrative capital would be sometime 'soon.'
"Due to the civilian factor, we cannot give a specific time frame. But it could be some time soon as our military plans are going as expected," he said.
Meanwhile, the military said that a further nine civilians crossed into Government-controlled areas of Mullaitivu on Tuesday from the LTTE areas. Since December 1 363 civilians have sought the protection of the Army, the military said.
The Government has not received any response from the LTTE to President Rajapaksa's warning that if the civilians were not freed by the year end the President would go ahead with banning the Tigers soon after the New Year if they did not comply with the order soon.
The President had warned on Monday that if the LTTE refused to release all the civilians in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu by the year end, his Government would proscribe the LTTE and seek to wipe out the terrorist outfit.
Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that with the capture of Nedunkerni recently, the forces could march to the west - towards the A9 road - and north-east towards Mullaitivu.
"With the capture of Nedunkerni, the options of proceeding and capturing other LTTE areas are possible," Brigadier Nanayakkara said.
The troops have also begun to march towards Mullaitivu through Kokilai, he said.
The Air Force also carried out two combat missions in Valanthan and the LTTE Forward Defence Line in Muhamalai yesterday killing several LTTE cadres.
Meanwhile the Government yesterday alleged that 8000 children who had sat for the O/Level examinations from Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi this year were forcibly recruited by the LTTE to take up arms and go to the battle field. The Government said that this clearly proved that the Tigers, in an act of desperation, were continuing to recruit minors to fight the security forces in the North.
"This clearly proves that the Tigers are forcibly recruiting children and adults to fight our forces. Even they know that the fall of Kilinochchi will be soon. LTTE's 'police chief' Nadesan also recently admitted that the LTTE was losing their capital," Minister Rambukwella said.
Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people have joined the Sri Lanka Army in the third quarter of this year to go to battle, the Government said yesterday.
The recruitment drive was carried out after the Government called on the youth of the country to join a 'winning team'.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 23 July 2009 )|
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