Saturday, August 23, 2008

Army takes commanding position west of A-9 bags Tunukkai, eyes Mallavi, Mankulam under threat

The LTTE yesterday abandoned Tunukkai on the Vanni front as the army brought the strategically important area west of the A9 road under its control.

The withdrawal came after three weeks of fierce fighting between the 57 Division and LTTE units spearheaded by the elite Charles Anthony ‘Brigade.’ The SLAF over the past few weeks engaged a range of LTTE targets in the area to facilitate the ground assault. The elite Special Forces troops assigned to the 57 Command had played a pivotal role in the fightng, the military said. The military acknowledged that the battle for Tunukkai had the toughest confrontation faced by the 57 Division commanded by Major General Jagath Dias in the recent past.

After failing to breakthrough LTTE positions south of Tunukkai, the army on Thursday had pushed towards the town from their positions west and north of the town situated halfway along the Mankulam-Vellankulam road.

The 57 Division had secured Madhu, Palampiddi, Mundumurippu, Periyamadhu, Naddakandal, Chiradikkulam and Kalvilan areas before its latest success..

Army headquarters said that ground operations on the western front had reached a critical stage with troops taking a commanding position against LTTE fortifications along the A9 road between Omanthai and Mankulam.

Senior military officials said the Task Force I on the Kilinochchi front, 57 Division on the Mullaitivu front and Task Force II advancing northwards on the right flank of the 57 Division and west of the A9, had taken the upper hand in the overall campaign in the Vanni west.

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