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New UNP dy. leader says forces on the
verge of finishing off Tigers
…area under LTTE control in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu rapidly shrinking

Karu meets press at Sirikotha.Pic Kamal Bogoda

The newly appointed UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya yesterday said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government had the strength to finish off the LTTE.

Addressing a press conference at Sirikotha, Jayasuriya said that his decision to quit the ruling coalition wouldn’t hinder the war against terror.

Flanked by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and UNP Assistant Leader Rukman Senanayake, Jayasuriya who had held the Public Administration portfolio in the Rajapaksa administration said that the area under LTTE control was rapidly shrinking. "The LTTE is restricted to parts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts," he said. The government had successfully cleared the Eastern Province, Mannar and Vavuniya and the war was rapidly coming to an end. Among the notable absentees at the press conference were UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayaka and UNP National Organiser S. B. Dissanayake.

He said that the UNP Democratic Group backed the government’s war strategy which he acknowledged was successful. Jayasuriya dismissed allegations that his move would be detrimental to the war effort.

Responding to queries, he expressed confidence that the government forces were on the verge of defeating the LTTE.

Jayasuriya’s assertion contradicted the much publicised UNP accusations that the army was forced to fight to a political agenda and the military campaign had suffered severe setbacks due to political interference. The UNP has also accused Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of bungling the war effort and of corrupt practice.

On the Vanni front, the army is gradually stepping up pressure on the remaining LTTE bases situated east of the A9 road and north of Mankulam-Mullaitivu road. Army headquarters said that 57 Division and Task Forces I(TF I) were attacking a stretch of A9 between Kilinochchi and Paranthan while the TF 3 and 59 Division were making significant progress on the eastern flank.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that the offensive action was on track both west and east of the A9. He said the LTTE was gradually losing control of the territory amid heavy losses.

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