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Bodies of 800 combatants transferred
across Vanni frontlines this year

The number of bodies transferred across the army and LTTE frontlines this year is evidence of the ferocity of battles in the Vanni theatre where the army is advancing on multiple fronts.

The ICRC responsible for the transfer of bodies doesn’t identify the fallen combatants separately. ICRC spokesperson Sarasi Wijeratne told The Island that almost 800 bodies had been transferred this year. In November and December alone, the ICRC had facilitated the transfer of about 200 bodies.

Even after the army unilaterally shifted the entry/exit point at Omanthai on the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road to Puliyankulam, the ICRC continued to facilitate the transfer of bodies. Ms Wijeratne said that they were determined to continue their operations.

The government allowed the ICRC to continue in the LTTE held area east of the A9 despite compelling all other INGOs including UN agencies to quit the area last September. The ICRC is based at Puthukkudiyiruppu on the Paranthan-Mullaitivu (A 35) road. Task Force I (TF I) positioned at Sinna-paranthan, about six kilometres west of Paranthan and 59 Division deployed on the eastern flank are pushing their way towards A 35.

The ICRC has spent its own funds to improvefacilities at government hospitals to store bodies.

The army said that the ICRC would have to shift its Puthukkudiyiruppu base as 59 Division’s spearheads approach A 35 road, the only major road still under LTTE control.

The army asserted that people trapped in the LTTE-held area would take refuge in and around Puthukkudiyirippu to escape fighting.

Ms Wijeratne said that they use Omanthai-Puliyankulam-Nedunkerni and Oddussudan route to link the army held area with the LTTE-controlled area on the eastern flank.

With the army now dominating Puliyankulam-Mullaitivu road, the pressure is building up on Mankulam-Mullaitivu road.

The army said that with troops positioned at Nedunkerni, Karuppaddamurippu, Kodalikallu and north of Alampil on the north-eastern coast, the LTTE would find it extremely difficult to resist the fall of the A 34 road.

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