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12,000 LTTE men killed: SL army chief

world Updated: Nov 04, 2008 13:47 IST

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Sri Lanka's army chief has said that 12,000 Tamil Tiger guerrillas have been killed in the past two and a half years and "80 per cent of the war" was over, a media report said on Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka made the remarks while addressing the media after taking part in a ceremony on Monday to mark the silver jubilee of the Gajaba Regiment at the regimental headquarters at Saliyapura in the northcentral Anuradhapura district.

The state-run Daily News quoted Gen. Fonseka as saying on Monday that "over 80 per cent of the war against the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) has been completed after regaining 80 per cent of areas under them and killing over 12,000 of their cadres".

Claiming that the LTTE did not have 12,000 fighters when the war erupted in a major way in August 2006, Gen Fonseka expressed "confidence that 12,000 of their cadres were killed during the past two and half years as they (LTTE) recruited a large number to strengthen their depleting ranks.

"We are sure that we will be able to see an end to this war soon, though we cannot give deadlines," he said. The daily said that he vowed to finish the task of defeating the LTTE during his tenure.

According to the media report, the army chief said that although Kilinochchi, the LTTE's political hub in the north, was the main focus of the advancing ground troops, "they have marched more than 10 km north of Kilinochchi from the western front of Kilinochchi".

"With the newly formed Task Force III starting its operations from Monday in the north of Mankulam, troops were poised to march from the west to the east on four fronts to capture Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu", Fonseka was quoted as saying.

Mullaitivu, a dense jungle area considered the base for LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, is located 352 km northeast of Colombo.