A spate of attacks on ‘soft targets’ in the South has forced
the government to step up the ongoing combined security forces
campaign to bring the entire Vanni region under its control.
Although the government has repeatedly assured that the
military wouldn’t be set a deadline, the recent wave of violence
directed at civilians and economic targets, mainly in the
Moneragala district and the capital, has necessitated
reappraisal of the strategy, authoritative sources said.
A combination of air strikes and ground operations would be
directed against the remaining LTTE strongholds in the Vanni,
the sources said shortly after SLAF jets carried out a bombing
raid at 8.30 am, their third sortie in 36 hours. Wing Commander
Andy Wijesuriya said that jets successfully hit a hideout at
Thiruwei-aru, about a km northwest of Iranamadu.
Intensified action on the Jaffna front aimed at weakening the
LTTE fortifications and strong points are of critical
importance, the sources asserted. Troops led by Czechoslovakian
built T-55 main battle tanks in the early hours of yesterday (6)
destroyed 30 bunkers, four of them at Nagarkovil, ten to the
north of Kandy-Jaffna A9 road and the rest at Kilaly. The army
estimated the number of LTTE killed at 12.
The army recovered one multi purpose machine gun, one T-56
weapon, five magazines, two pouches and a large number of other
LTTE items. Five soldiers were wounded in action.
Yesterday’s assault followed two operations last Wednesday
(January 30) and Friday (February 1) also in the same theatre.
Last Wednesday’s operation on the Jaffna frontline
highlighted the level of preparedness of the army. The 55 and 53
Divisions launched a simultaneous strike across the LTTE’s first
line of defences at Muhamalai and Nagarkovil in the early hours
which quickly overwhelmed the defenders.
The pre-dawn attack got underway at 12.45 am after weeks of
small group operations to test enemy positions. The effective
deployment of the infantry alongside the T-55 main battle tanks
facilitated the destruction of altogether about 35 bunkers. The
army mounted a second assault two days later on about ten
bunkers which had been damaged in Wednesday’s action.
Meanwhile the army pressed on, on the Vanni and Weli Oya
fronts, with troops engaging enemy units at Parappakandal,
Kokkuthuduwai and Janakapura on Tuesday. During the engagement
at Kokkuthuduwai, the army lost three soldiers while 14 received
injuries. The army placed the number of LTTE killed at four.
At Janakapura, Weli Oya, the Army killed at least 15 LTTE
cadres in two separate confrontations.