Tigers intensify resistance on Weli Oya front

Against the backdrop of inclement weather which has caused severe difficulties to both parties battling for supremacy in the Vanni, the LTTE seems to be giving high priority to the defence of its bases on the Weli Oya front, where the army is facing stiff resistance.

Although the 59 Division engaged in offensive action on this front has inflicted sizeable damages on the defenders, the LTTE is determinedly resisting troops operating on the Weli Oya front.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said troops on the Weli Oya front had encountered best of their cadres. According to him, the LTTE, battling the army on several fronts, had deployed the bulk of their assets on the Weli Oya front. This would obviously be at the expense of units fighting on other fronts, he said.

After the loss of the Jaffna peninsula in 1995 and the Eastern Province last year the LTTE is fighting to save its remaining bases in the Vanni, particularly on the eastern part.

On the Mannar and Vavuniya fronts, the LTTE had deployed a mixture of men and women, he said. The official said the LTTE had abandoned some parts of its northern frontline and taken up position on the second line of defence. This could be partly due to shortage of men and material, he told The Island.

He didn’t rule out the possibility of the LTTE waiting till the army taking the abandoned positions before unleashing artillery and mortar barrages.

He said the LTTE had been experiencing severe difficulties on all fronts due to shortage of both men and material.

Army Chief Lt. General Sarath Fonseka on Saturday visited Vanni Security Forces Headquarters to assess progress of offensive action.

Air Marshal Roshan Goonetileke said the group’s fighting capability had been blunted due to combined security forces action. Meeting the army’s challenge on several fronts amidst a successive SLAF campaign and a crippling shortage of supplies due to loss of its sea supply routes, would be a daunting task, he said. "They are now struggling, really struggling just to hold on to their frontlines," the Air Chief said. According to him air strikes carried out in support of the ground offensive had been successful. But, the SLAF’s major success had been the targeting of a range of LTTE targets including ammunition dumps, communication facilities, Sea Tigers, boat building facilities and training bases had weakened the group’s fighting capacity, he said.

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