The pro-government Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), led by the former LTTE commander Karuna, ambushed a group of LTTE men and killed 13 of them at Kirimichchai in the Eastern district of Batticaloa on Sunday.
Fifty LTTE cadres fleeing the coastal town of Vaharai and heading towards the Thoppigala jungles in the south west, were ambushed by Karuna's Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) at 5:30 am, said Azad Moulana, spokesman of the TMVP.
Twenty three T-56 rifles, 3 RPGs, 1 Rocket Launcher and one 50 calibre gun were seized from the intercepted LTTE men, he said.
Sri Lankan government troops had captured Vaharai and Verugal from the LTTE last weekend. The LTTE had fled the area apparently in the hope of regrouping and coming back to fight another day. Karuna had broken away from the mainstream LTTE led by Velupillai Prabhakaran in March 2004.
Now operating under the name Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) or the Tamil Peoples' Liberation Tigers, his group is aligned with the Sri Lankan government.
TMVP aims to take Thoppigala
The TMVP is taking part in the mopping up operations in places captured by the Sri Lankan forces in Batticaloa district alongside regular Sri Lankan troops.
"The primary task of the TMVP is to take on the fleeing LTTE cadres and neutralise them, but we are determined to drive the LTTE out of its main bases in the Thoppigala jungles also," said its spokesman, Moulana.
"Our reconnaissance and deep penetration units are already there," he said.
Reverses or regrouping?
The mainstream LTTE, led by Velupillai Prabhakaran, has already received set backs in Kanjikudichcharu in the South Eastern district of Amparai, with the Sri Lankan Special Task Force (STF) capturing 16 bases of varying sizes there in the past week.
The LTTE cadres stationed there had fled. But this might just be a tactical withdrawal, military experts in Colombo say.
The LTTE would have repatriated its cadres to the Thoppigala-Karadiyanaru area further North, for regrouping and redeployment, they said.