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Monday, January 26, 2009

Army captures Mullaitivu

Army captures Mullaitivu

*Ends 13 year LTTE domination

*Puthukuduiruppu to fall soon


The Security Forces now engaged in the final battle against the LTTE in the Mullaitivu district achieved one of the major victories yesterday after 59 Division troops under the command of Brigadier Nandana Udawatta captured Mullaitivu, the LTTE’s most prestigious military stronghold in the Eastern coast by yesterday afternoon, military officials told the Daily News yesterday.

Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka announced this victory to the nation yesterday evening in a special message telecast live.

“The Tiger stronghold of Mullaitivu fell under Security Forces control after 13 years with the 59 Division troops under the command of Brigadier Nandana Udawatta entering this strategic stronghold last afternoon”, military officials told the Daily News.

Mullaitivu was among the most prestigious and strategically important townships such as Kilinochchi, Paranthan, Pooneryn and Elephant Pass, the LTTE had controlled during the two and half decades long conflict.

The LTTE has lost all these strongholds within the past two months with the fall of Pooneryn on November 15, 2008.

The Army last controlled this isolated Army camp located in Mullaitivu in 1996 and it was overrun by the LTTE on July 18, 1996 which went down in military history as one of the major debacles losing a large haul of weapons including long range artillery and mortars and more than 1,000 soldiers.

The Security Forces which commenced military operations to liberate the Vanni in February 2007 launched the 59 offensive Division under the command of Brigadier Nandana Udawatta in January 2008 from Weli Oya with the objective of liberating Mullaitivu from the LTTE.

It achieved this major victory after capturing the entire Mullaitivu jungle including the Nithyakaikulam Thanimurkku Kulam LTTE’s 14 Base complex, Nayaru, Kumulamunai, Alampil and Mulliyavali areas.

The 59 Division made a major breakthrough in their battle to capture the Tiger stronghold Mullaitivu on Friday, with the capture of the earth bund located four kilometres south of Mullaitivu centre by Friday morning.

“The LTTE strongly held this defence line in the North of Alampil even after 59 Division troops captured Mulliyavali and Thanniattu towns located on the Mullaitivu- Oddusudan A-35 road”, military officials added.

SLAF fighter jets and MI 24 helicopter gunships gave strong support for the ground troops to capture this earth bund to open the gateway of Mullaitivu.

The 7 Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Colonel Chaminda Lamahewa, 15 Sri Lanka Light Infantry battalion and 14 Vijayaba Infantry Regiment troops under 593 Brigade commanded by Colonel Jayantha Gunaratne entered the Mullaitivu Tiger stronghold by 1 p.m. yesterday after entering through the Tiger defences which was captured by Friday.

“The troops were engaged in search and clearing operations and consolidating their positions after entering Mullaitivu by yesterday afternoon”, a military official added.

The 591 Brigade under the command of Colonel Aruna Ariyasinghe and 592 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Maneesha Silva attached to the 59 Division were partners to the victory.

“The troops attached to the 59 Division advanced more than four kilometres into the centre of Mullaitivu town by yesterday afternoon after the capture of the Tiger defence line North of Alampil.

“With the fall of the Tiger defence line in the South of Mullaitvu the LTTE had fled the Mullaitivu town fearing that supply routes to Mullaitivu would be cut off from the northern direction too”, military sources added.

With the capture of Mullaitivu which was famous as one of the strongest Sea Tiger bases, the LTTE has now been confined to 280 square Kilometres of territory in the Puthukuduiruppu and Visuamadu general areas which are also under immense pressure of the Security Forces by yesterday evening.

The LTTE is also on the verge of losing Puthukuduiruppu junction and the road stretch of the A-35 between Visuamadu general area and Puthukuduiruppu by yesterday evening as troops attached to Task Force II, Task Force III and Task Force IV were poised to capture the road further confining the Tiger cadres to North of the Puthukuduiruppu and Vishuamadu areas with six offensive Divisions surrounding this territory from the West, South and East as of last evening.

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