The Sri Lankan armed forces on Sunday claimed to have captured one of the largest bases of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in the northern district of Mannar, Illupakadavai, after 21 years.
Defence officers said that a large contingent of Sri Lankan army, comprising troops from the 58th Division and army commandos captured the town early on Sunday after laying siege from Saturday night.
The town lies about 10km north of Vedithalthivu, a Sea Tiger base which the armed forces had claimed to have captured in the middle of last week. The battle to capture Illupakadavai left at least 15 LTTE cadres dead.
Military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said this was the largest LTTE base situated on the north-western coast.
Nanayakkara clarified that this was not a Sea Tiger base but “used for other terror activities in the area for the last two decades”.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government, bolstered by the apparent success against the separatist LTTE on the battlefield, is adopting an aggressive posture off the battle arena as well.
A senior minister and spokesperson on defence affairs Keheliya Rambukwella said on Saturday the rebels were now confined only to a handful of regions in the north and now there was no question of reaching any compromise with them.
“The troops have been able to confine the LTTE to only Killinochchi, Mullaitivu and a small stretch of land in Vavuniya,” he said, reported a government news portal. Over the last week, the LTTE had experienced unexpected reverses, he added.
Citing the example of the armed forces capturing the Sea Tiger base Vidathalthivu, Rambukwella said the fall of the base had dealt a severe blow to the fortunes of the separatist group.
“The Sea Tiger base in Vidathalthivu was under the direct command of sea tiger leader Soosai and had been used not only to store ammunition and station cadres but also as a hideout for LTTE cadres returning after carrying out attacks on the Sri Lankan Navy,” the minister said.
The next step for the armed forces would be to capture Killinochchi, a region in northern Sri Lanka, from the LTTE, Rambukwella added.