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Omanthai entry/exit point to be kept clear of current fighting

Despite rapid progress on the Vavuniya front with 57 Division and Task Force 11 forcing the LTTE to retreat from their strongholds, the army is unlikely to disturb the Omanthai entry/exit point on the Kandy-Jaffna A9.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the Task Force 11 deployed on the right flank of the 57 Division and West of the A9 wouldn’t turn towards the highway for the time being.

The multi-pronged advance by ground forces has placed LTTE units operating West of A9 and the right flank of the Task Force 11 under tremendous pressure with positions between Omanthai and Puliyankulam particularly being vulnerable.

The ICRC recently vacated Omanthai after SLAF jets had engaged an LTTE grouping about five kilometers north of the entry/exit point. The ICRC returned early last week after the government issued a security guarantee to the ICRC.

Nanayakkara told the Sunday Island that Friday’s fall of Nandankandal, situated 16 kilometres northeast of Periyamadu to the 57 Division, and Navvi, situated 15 kilometres northwest of Omanthai, to fighting elements of the Task Force 11, would increase pressure on the enemy units fighting in the area West of the A9.

Army headquarters announced the latest territorial gains on Friday, a day after army chief Lt. General Sarath Fonseka visited Vavuniya to review the status of the ongoing operations in the region.

On Friday Task Force 11 troops killed two LTTE cadres and wounded three at Navvi. During subsequent clearing operations, six troops had been wounded in accidental explosions, he said.

According to the military spokesman, the 57 Division had advanced almost 33 kilometres north of Pandisurichchan on the Vavuniya-Mannar main road.

The Task Force 1 on the Mannar front is conducting operations against LTTE units operating in Viddataltivu on the northwestern coast. It is deployed on the left flank of the 57 Division.

Vanni Security Forces Chief Major General Jagath Jayasuriya told the Sunday Island the former Sea Tiger stronghold would fall soon. According to him troops were just two and half kilometres south of Viddataltivu

"We are making headway on all fronts," he said, expressing confidence security forces could overwhelm any counter-attack. "In fact, we are now threatening their positions on a wide front West of A9

To facilitate the 57 Division’s advance, the army has deployed the newly raised 61 Division to control a part of the area captured by the fighting Division.

The Sunday Island learns an assault on the A9 north of Omanthai is unlikely until the army makes further progress on the Vanni east. Although the 59 Division deployed on the Weli Oya front has made slow but steady progress, the LTTE remained strong with the Kilinochchi leadership using most of its assets on the eastern front.

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