|Thaipongal freedom for 800 civilians, Tigers join escapees|
|Thursday, 15 January 2009|
by Shamindra Ferdinando
The army offensive on the Vanni front has reached a decisive stage with troops opening up escape routes for civilians trapped in the war zone, east of the A9.
The 58 and 55 Divisions had punched holes in the rapidly deteriorating LTTE defence on the eastern flank, thereby allowing civilians to reach the army, directing operations against the shrinking last enemy stronghold.
Army Chief Lt. General Sarath Fonseka recently said that the LTTE had been boxed into a rectangular space even smaller than the Thoppigala-Narakkanmulla area overrun by the army on the eastern front on 2007. Under Fonseka’a directions, the army relentlessly pursued operational objectives after the LTTE forced the civilians to move eastwards of the A9 as the army advanced on several fronts, gradually taking hold of major civilian centres.
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara yesterday told The Island that about 800 men, women and children had reached positions held by the 58 Division east of Paranthan and 55 Division at Kevil on the north-eastern coast on Wednesday.
Asserting that the LTTE wouldn’t have the manpower to mount an effective blockade within the area under its control, the Brigadier said that the number of escapees was the highest on a single day since the army launched the Vanni offensive in March 2007.
Responding to our queries, he said that of the people who had surrendered on Wednesday, 474 gave themselves up to 55 Division fighting its way to Chundikulam.
The Brigadier said that 55 Division troops were now operating in the Chundikulam area where more people were likely to take advantage of the army’s presence to quit what the Brigadier called an open prison run by the LTTE. Among the escapees were a group of 18 men, 15 women and 14 children who had reached 58 Division troops deployed at Thimilamadam in a boat, he said.
He said that LTTE cadres, too, could be taking refuge among the civilians. The army would welcome both civilians and LTTE cadres, he said. Among 107 people who had surrendered to the army last Sunday (11) at Kaddaikadu, was an LTTE cadre. The army identified him as an LTTE cadre assigned to a 120mm mortar unit.
Three more LTTE cadres had surrendered to the 58 Division conducting operations in the Murasumoddai area Tuesday afternoon.
Army headquarters said that with the army advancing on the remaining LTTE positions east of the A9 road, both civilians and thousands of child soldiers could reach the nearest army unit.
Meanwhile, the 59 Division directing operations against Mullaitivu had detected two LTTE boats fitted with explosives of about 75 kgs each in the Tanniyayuttu area. The Task Force IV had recovered a large stock of items, including ten fibre glass dinghies and five hundred water tanks of 200 litre capacity from an LTTE training facility at Puthukudurippu.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 14 August 2009 )|
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