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Army reaches M’tivu outskirtrs

*Troops approach Nedunkerni-Mullaitivu road
*LTTE airstrip at Mulliyavalai threatened
*TF III takes Karuppaddamurippu on A 34
*Kfirs, MIGs 27s and F7s in major assault

While the focus was on the bloody battles waged by 57 Division and Task Force I (TF I) to regain the Kilinochchi-Paranthan stretch of the A9, the army on the eastern flank had reached the outskirts of Mullaitivu over the weekend.

The army said that the LTTE now faced direct threats on both Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, the last of its strongholds on the Vanni front.

The army said that troops of 59 Division had fought their way into Mullaitivu suburbs after overcoming fierce LTTE resistance over the past few months, finally defeating LTTE units operating at Nagacholai forest reserve.

The 59 Division raised by Lt. General Sarath Fonseka to regain Mullaitivu on the north-eastern coast, had secured commanding positions in the general area south of Mullaitivu, the army said.

A senior military official told The Island that the three Brigades (591, 592 and 593) of 59 Division had made significant progress on the eastern flank.

The 591 had positioned itself north of Alampil and south of Tanniyattu and engaged LTTE units east and west of the Kanukkernikulam tank area and marshland north of Alampil. The 592, advancing towards Nadunkerni- Mullaitivu road had reached Koddankkailu area, about 6 miles off Nadunkerni. The Brigade had also come across an LTTE cemetery located in the western border of the Nagancholai forest reserve.

After securing Kumulamunai, the 593 Brigade is advancing towards the strategically located Mulliyaveli town situated west of Tanniyayuttu on the Mankulam- Mullaittivu (A-34) road. A 1000 m long and 30 m wide airstrip constructed between late 2006 and October 2007 is situated in the Mulliyavalaii area. The SLAF early this year reported that the LTTE had been engaged in an effort to expand the airstrip by another 1000 m to accommodate large aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Task Force III (TF III) advancing along the A 34 road had reached Karuppaddamurippu, east of Olumadu. The army said that TF III advancing towards Oddusudan also on the same road was expected to link up with 59 Division soon.

The SLAF on Saturday launched major air strike on LTTE fortifications at Paranthan and Kilinochchi areas in support of 57 Division and TF I. An authoritative official said that Kfirs, MIG 27s and F7s took part in the assault. According to him, ten sorties carried out during the day had involved the 10 Squadron (Kfirs), 12 Squadron (MIG 27s) and 5 Squadron (F7s). Responding to The Island queries, the official said that aircraft took off from Katunayake air base on 27 occasions.

Army headquarters said that the LTTE, struggling to hold their rapidly shrinking area east of A9 wouldn’t be able to prevent civilians reaching government lines. Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told The Island that more people would be able to escape in the coming weeks as pressure mounts on Mullaitivu. A group of 12 had reached Kanagarayankulam last Friday.

On Sunday, a group of 18, including a four-year-old boy reached 59 Division troops at Palampai area.

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