At least 24 LTTE cadres were killed in fierce clashes with Sri Lankan troops in the islands embattled north where security forces were now aiming to capture the remaining rebel pockets, officials said on Tuesday.
Citing battlefield reports, the Defence Ministry said the troops were now in the process of dominating the entire Puthukkuduyiruppu western area. The security forces have been engaged in pitched battles with the LTTE since Monday.
"The soldiers have manoeuvred from north of A-35 road (Paranthan-Mullaittivu), crossing several waterways and eliminated LTTE strongholds on their way before they reached their current positions," it said.
According to available information, troops recovered bodies of 14 LTTE cadres during yesterday's clashes while bodies of nine more rebels along with 9 T-56 weapons were found today, the Defence Ministry said.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Navy rescued 19 Tamil civilians, who were fleeing from the LTTE in a fiberglass dinghy yesterday in the seas off Nayaru near Jaffna. After being brought ashore, they were provided with food.
Those who were found sick and weary were given immediate treatment by the Naval medical personnel, the Defence Ministry said.
Meanwhile, troops engaged in search and clearing operations in the recently captured Visuamadu found LTTE military items and vehicles left behind by the fleeing rebels.
Troops were able to locate the LTTE workshop used to produce ammunition boxes from general area of Visuamadu in Mullaittivu yesterday, the army said.
Seven machines used for production were also found when the troops captured the location, defence sources said.
Troops, conducting further consolidating operations, located LTTE's used vehicles, acid cans and many other items from Visuamadu, the Media Centre for National Security said.
Separately, security forces located a bowser or a trailer vehicle with kerosene and three other bowsers stored underground during search operations in Visuamadu yesterday.
As many as 440 internally displaced persons, including 315 patients and 125 helpers who were trapped in the LTTE-held areas, have been brought to the Naval camp in eastern Trincomalee through sea routes with the help of the Red Cross.
At Mullaittivu, LTTE cadres suffered damage during a confrontation in Puthukuduiruppu yesterday. Troops recovered the body of an LTTE cadre along with two T-56 assault rifles and one LMG during a subsequent search operation in the area.
The LTTE sustained severe damage during bitter clashes with the troops in Puthukuduiruppu west yesterday, the MCNS said, adding the security forces also conducted search operations in Periyakulam area in the region.