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LTTE counter-attack crushed, MBRL captured
Army on threshold of FINAL victory

The army Tuesday night thwarted what would have been one of the last LTTE counter attacks on troops now positioned south of the no firing zone.

In an attempt to drive out the 59 Division troops who had crossed the Waduvakkal Bridge to reach the southern edge of the no firing zone earlier on the day, the LTTE had launched a two-pronged assault, a senior army official told The Island.

According to him as four explosives-laden LTTE craft approached the newly liberated area, a sizeable group of terrorists who had come in two large boats landed a little distance away from the northern-most positions held by the 59 Division. "We blew up three of their suicide craft," he said.

Troops held their positions. The LTTE assault lasted about four hours.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told The Island that the army had caused considerable damage to the LTTE during Tuesday’s engagement.

The offensive undertaken by the 59 Division was the first since it faced an LTTE counter attack mounted in the first week of February.

Recently Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka brought Brigadier Prasanna Silva to command the Division credited with the liberation of the Mullaitivu town in January.

The LTTE is now struggling to curb the 58 Division advancing on its last stronghold inside the no fire zone. Troops yesterday morning recovered an improvised multi barrel rocket launcher left behind by the retreating terrorists. A spokesman for the 58 Division said that the recovery had been made by troops dominating Karayanmullivaikal area.

He said that the LTTE had made a desperate attempt to take a six barrelled rocket launcher with an effective range of about 8 km believed to be one of the few heavy weapons remaining in the hands of the terrorists. Along with the rocket launcher, the army recovered 70 T-56 assault rifles, six light machine guns and two 60 mm mortars.

As the 58 and 59 Divisions pressed the LTTE on two flanks with the 53 Division operating in the general area west of the no fire zone, more civilians reached the frontline troops over the past 48 hours. The army said that 58 Division troops operating at Vellamullaiwaikkal had received 76 civilians during the day.

Brigadier Shavindra Silva, the Commanding Officer of the 58 Division told The Island that about 80 bodies of LTTE cadres had been recovered since last Sunday. "We are also making many recoveries of arms and ammunition," he said, asserting that what was left of the LTTE’s conventional fighting capacity was rapidly dwindling. Among the arms recovered were 48 T-56 assault rifles, one light machine gun, one communication set and 13 cans full of explosives.

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