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January 29, 2009 14:52 IST

Continuing their string of successes against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Sri Lankan forces on Thursday gained total control over Visuamadu town, the nerve centre of the Tamil Tigers' artillery power, and captured a 35-feet submarine-type craft as well as other vessels.

Troops of 58 Division gained control over the Visuamadu town in the final phase of operations against the LTTE [Images] after hours of fierce fighting with the rebels, security sources said.

Initial search and clearing operations are being conducted in Visuamadu, one of the last bastions of the Tamil Tigers', they said.

The capture of Visuamadu town came four days after the Army gained control over the coastal town of Mullaittivu, headquarters of 'Sea Tigers', the coastal wing of LTTE.

According to military sources, troops have also gained control over a 10-km stretch of the road, running North of Visuamadu via Puliyampokkanai towards Chundikkulama.

Troops are now engaged in mopping up the remaining LTTE resistances south of Visuamadu and Piramanthal Kulama, the Defence Ministry said.

"LTTE cadres, unable to withstand the military onslaught, have further fled towards the declared safer zones at Teravilkulam and Udayarkattukulama," military sources said.

The army also found two 20-feet crafts and a single person craft in Muttiyankattukulam south west of Pudukuduyirruppu, one of the last bastions of the LTTE.

Meanwhile, the military claimed that LTTE fighters continued firing heavy artillery towards security forces from the declared civilian safety region.

According to the Sri Lankan air force, its fighter jets launched an air strike on LTTE resistance point located one km east of Vishuamadukulam tank to provide support to the advancing troops of the specialised 57 division.

Air force confirmed that the target was accurately engaged.

"Security forces have been resilient on securing the safety of the civilians held by LTTE, despite continuous provocations made by the outfit for a military retaliation towards the safe zone," a military official said.

According to information available from civilians and military sources, LTTE fighters are concentrating arsenal and fighting units among the civilians, the officials said.

"Thousands of innocent Tamil civilians are held at gunpoint under unprecedented hardships inflicted by the LTTE at these safe regions until its senior ranks sketch out an escape route," the ministry quoted defence observes to say.

Separately, during subsequent search operations, troops have also found a bus and a recovery vehicle which is believed to have been used to trail artillery guns, security sources said.

Meanwhile, the Engineering corps of the 58 Division have reconstructed the Kalamadukulam Bridge, which was destroyed by LTTE using high explosives on January 24.

Kalamadukulam Bridge extending over 140 feet is strategically important as its links the vital Paranthan-Mullaittivu main road.

The LTTE had also destroyed the Kalamadukulama Tank bund, flooding sections of the A-35 Paranthan-Mullaittivu main road, Ramanatpuram, Dharmapuram and Visuamadu to stall the military advances, the Defence Ministry said.

Hundreds of civilians escaping from the clutches of LTTE were entrapped in the flood waters and later salvaged by security forces during hours long rescue operations conducted in the area, the military said.

Troops also successfully thwarted an LTTE attack along the flood canal onboard 5 boats targeting soldiers engaged in rescue operations, it said.

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