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Lankan troops capture LTTE training camp
T V Sriram in Colombo
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January 13, 2009 19:01 IST

Sri Lankan troops captured a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam training camp and a hospital as ground forces pressed ahead toward the last rebel bastion of Mullaittivu in embattled north, officials said on Tuesday.

Sri Lankan Air Force pounded identified LTTE [Images] hideout located in the jungles south of Puthukudiyirippu, Mullaittivu, believed to be frequented by top Tamil Tiger leadership, including supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.

According to Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara, Air Force spokesperson, the air raids targeted the hideout believed to be frequented by Prabhakaran.

With ground troops closing in on the LTTE bastions of Puthukkudiyirippu and Mullaittivu, Prabakaran is running short of safe houses and escape routes, defence sources said.

The hideout was located in a thick canopy area at Venavil, one of the remaining hideouts of Prabakaran.

Reports of fighting have increased in recent months amid government's declaration to crush the group. In a major setback to the rebels, the military took control of their political capital Killinocchi and captured their main base on the Jaffna peninsula.

LTTE communication is experiencing a stand down since the time of the attack, the sources said.

In ground clashes, the 59 Division troops, moving away from the north of Welioya and closing in onto the heart of Mullaittivu, brought the Mulliyavalai-Thanniyuttu government district hospital under their control from the LTTE on Monday evening, the Lankan Army Headquarters said.

"The hospital premises -- as all the hallmarks proved -- have been extensively used by Tigers as one of their medical centres to treat their injured fellow-cadres," the army said.

Troops also successfully captured a LTTE training camp with modified concrete bunkers located in Keridamadu near Killinocchi on Monday afternoon, the army said.

The Tamil Tigers had put up bunkers within the hospital compound and several medical rooms, appeared to have been used as their resting rooms removing all equipment from the inside, the military said.

"The LTTE have also used many metal beds in the hospital for construction of their fortified bunkers and other guard points," it said.

After a sustained 48 hour long battle with LTTE, the troops freed the hospital from their grips.

Separately, the troops of 57 and 58 Divisions continued their advance further in the LTTE held areas in Uriyan in Killinocchi and the south of Elephant Pass in the north, causing heavy damages to the rebels, the army said, adding soldiers sustained injuries due to mortar fire directed by the LTTE.

Troops recovered three bodies of LTTE cadres during a search in Uriyan the same day. In another incident, troops of 59 Division confronted LTTE cadres in east of Puthukudiruppu and Mulliaveli in Mullaiittivu and inflicted losses on the Tamil Tiger rebels on Monday, the military said.

The Task Force-II in Aiyanperunal and Thonikal and Task Force III and IV in Keridamadu near Kilinochchi continued their advance amidst LTTE's stiff resistance on Monday, the officials said.

Fighting, which has escalated in the past two years, further flared up after the government, in January 2008, pulled out of the ceasefire pact signed in 2002 with the rebels.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for an independent state for the minority ethnic Tamils, alleging marginalisation of the community for decades by governments dominated by the Sinhalese. Over 70,000 people have been killed in the civil war in the Island nation.

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