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Troops enter Puthukuduyiruppu

Amidst fierce resistance from the LTTE the Army yesterday entered Puthukuduirippu, the last township held by the Tigers.

Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said troops of the 53 Division from the north east and the 58 Division and Task Force – IV moving from the West had reached the area and fierce fighting was on.

Troops had breached the 3.5 km long LTTE Forward Defence Line (FLD) after a seven hour battle beginning Monday night the sources said.

With the troops advancing into Puthukuduirippu the area held by the LTTE had shrunken to 66 sq kilometers consisting mainly of jungle, he said. Some Tigers had infiltrated the No War Zone and were mingling with civilians to avoid detection, the military said.

Military sources said that at least 40 Tiger cadres were killed in confrontations with the army and they were using all their resources to prevent the troops capturing the township.

Puthukuduirippu is 48 km from Paranthan on the A-35 road rom Paranthan to Mullaitivu.

"Tigers were attacking the troops from three fronts, mobilising all the cadres at their disposal but it will be only a matter of time before the army captured the entire township," Nanayakkara said.

Tigers had suffered heavy losses in their bid to defend their last stronghold, he said.

Troops came across double cabs and other vehicles left behind by the Tigers in retreat.

Sixteen LTTE cadres who had tried to infiltrate Mullaitivu area from the coastal belt were shot dead. Later the troops on a

search operation had recovered all 16 bodies the military spokesman said.

The advancing troops came across an LTTE cemetery in Teevipuram where a large number of Tiger cadres killed in battle were buried and in one place the troops detected a tomb where an LTTE cadre who had been killed in a confrontation a couple of weeks ago had been buried.

In another instance the troops found a makeshift hut where the wounded had been treated by the Tigers.

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