The Sri Lankan government said on Monday that its forces were taking additional casualties only to lessen Tamil civilian losses in the on-going fighting against the rebel LTTE in the east.
The official media said that the Army had been restraining the use of artillery and mortars and deploying ground troops instead, so as to minimise civilian casualties in the Kallar-Vaharai sector which is teeming with Tamil refugees.
In the bid to take Kaddumurivululam in the Trincomalee-Batticaloa sector on Sunday, using ground forces only, the army lost 24 men, said the government's National Security website. 69 others were wounded.
But militarily, the operation was a success in as much as the Army destroyed a 122 mm artillery piece and an 80 mm mortar of the LTTE.
The government said that it had appealed to the LTTE to stop using civilians as shields in the on-going fighting.
It asked the LTTE to either remove its artillery and mortars from civilian habitations, or ask civilians to leave areas in which it wanted to place its guns.
But there had been no response to this appeal, the website said.
According to the government, the LTTE is poised to shell army positions in Kadirveli from a place between Vigneswara College and the Tamil Mahavidyala, which are presently housing Tamil refugees.
The LTTE expects that the army will not fire back for fear of hitting innocent civilians. Or, even if it does fire, it could be portrayed as an inhuman force in the international media.
According to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the LTTE is using the 20,000 refugees in Vaharai as a human shield in its fight against the Security Forces.