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Lankan army inches closer to Prabhakaran

T V Sriram in Colombo | November 16, 2008 19:55 IST

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Fresh from their success in capturing the entire north-western coast, the Sri Lankan Air Force fighter jets on Sunday pounded bunkers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and seized hundreds of arms and ammunitions while recovering the bodies of two militants, officials said.

Sri Lanka [Images] Air Force fighter jets pounded LTTE [Images] positions in the Muhamalai area in Jaffna early Sunday morning.

Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said that the air strikes were taken in support of ground troops. In ground clashes, Task Force-I troops battling in Nallur and south of Nevil in Kilinochchi faced stiff enemy resistance but forged ahead, the army said.

Following the clashes, troops found one dead LTTE cadre, three T-56 weapons and one radio set from the area. The 59 Division troops in the North East of Welioya sector over-ran well-fortified sixteen bunkers in the north of Andankulam and directed heavy fire on the LTTE on Saturday, the army said.

The troops also recovered a decomposed body of an LTTE cadre with his dog tag, 5500 T-56 and 800 MPMG ammunitions, nine hand grenades and 192 anti-personnel mines.

After capturing the north-west coast, troops began advancing to the un-cleared area of Paranthan in the LTTE stronghold of Kilinochchi.

"Just hours after valiant troops bagged the strategically important Pooneryn on Saturday, a group of eleven more civilians got trapped in un-cleared areas of Paranthan, near the seized area in Ponnar using a Sea route early Sunday morning," the defence ministry said.

Those civilians, including six women, had 'escaped from the LTTE custody' and sailed on a dinghy to seek security under the government troops, serving Jaffna peninsula, it said.

The civilians were directed to the nearest Internally Displaced Persons camp after providing them with refreshments, it said.

Meanwhile, confrontations erupted in Kilaly, Muhamalai, Kattirasan and Vembadukera FDLs in Jaffna on Saturday, leading to casualties among the tiger rebels, the army said.

"The LTTE cadres operating ahead of the Forward Defence Line directed heavy fire in order to provoke the troops serving that area and the security forces returned the fire," it said.

Heavy casualties were reported from the enemy side, the ministry said.

Separately, the 57 Division Troops in deep north of Akkarayankulam were involved in fierce fighting on Saturday, rendering damages to the rebels, the military said.

The LTTE fighters resorted to continuous mortar firing towards the advancing troops but the troops reacted, causing damages to their weaponry, the military said quoting technical sources.

At eastern Trincomalee, security forces recovered a sizable cache of arms and ammunition during search operations on Saturday, the army said.

Meanwhile, troops operating in the general area of Madhukanda in Vavuniya recovered three hand grenades during a search and clear operation.

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