Sea Tiger assault on Jaffna islet triggers artillery battle
Six civilians killed, 20 wounded

A wounded civilian receiving treatment at Jaffna Teachibg Hospital

An LTTE artillery attack on the Jaffna town area yesterday morning killed six civilians and wounded about 20, including two children and a pastor.

An army official said the LTTE had fired 20 shells from Pooneryn in the Vanni mainland targeting the Jaffna town as troops battled an LTTE raiding party on Chirutivu an islet in the Jaffna lagoon. Jaffna based SLA artillery also had engaged Sea Tiger speed boats approaching the peninsula during the action on Chirutivu close to Jaffna town.

Of the wounded, nine had been operated on at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital.

Navy headquarters said four of the enemy craft had been hit by security forces fire and one of them had been abandoned in the area dominated by the navy. The official said the fibre glass dinghy would be retrieved.

A small group of LTTE cadres waded across the lagoon to reach the islet and engaged the joint contingent of army and navy deployed there, another official said. He acknowledged the attackers had hit the base about 1.30 a.m. and after a 30 minute exchange of fire withdrew. Although some attackers were believed to have been wounded in action they had escaped before troops conducted a clearing operation later in the day.

Army headquarters said eight LTTE cadres had been killed and several including the operations commander and his deputy had been wounded.

The army lost one soldier and three personnel – two navy and one army – were missing in action.

Navy headquarters spokesman Commander D.P.K. Dassanayake denied LTTE claims that the raiding party had killed 13 SLN personnel and captured a stock of arms an ammunition including radar. Dassanayake said they never had radar installed on Chirutivu. Fielding questions, he said bodies of three personnel taken to the Vanni by the attackers could of the missing men.

Pro-LTTE Tamilnet quoted the LTTE as saying that a special marine wing of the Sea Tigers had seized weapons including a 50-caliber machine gun, a mortar, two light machine guns and radar along with three bodies.

Meanwhile, the SLAF launched three separate attacks within one hour in the northern theatre as troops battled the enemy on the Vanni and Weli Oya fronts. SLAF spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said Mi 24 helicopter gunships engaged an LTTE gathering point about 2 kms north of Adampan Thursday about 5.45 a.m. He said the strike had been in support of ground troops advancing on the Mannar front

About 25 minutes later, jets launched from Katunayake airbase bombed an LTTE facility at Kokavil, about six kms southwest of Mullaitivu. Minutes later, jets attacked an LTTE training facility situated about six kms southwest of Mulliyawalai, Mullaitivu.

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