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Lankan army captures rebel stronghold

world Updated: Sep 03, 2008 01:00 IST
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The fighting between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) intensified in the last 24 hours with more than 40 combatants killed in scattered battle across the north.

The armed forces claimed a “significant” victory after capturing most parts of a town ‘Mallavi’ considered an LTTE stronghold. The ground forces, the army said, were pushing forward under aircraft cover.

The government-run Media Centre for National Security said, “forces brought more than three-fourths of the LTTE’s nerve centre Mallavi... under their control on Monday evening.”

“Even today they are sweeping the rest of the area,” military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.

Local media quoted Colombo-based military analyst Iqbal Athas, commenting that the capture of Mallavi, taken together with other army advances near land the Tigers’ claim as a separate state for the ethnic minority Tamil people, was a portend for a new phase of the war. “The fact the troops have gone into Mallavi shows they are now on the outer fringe of the heartland. How the future advance in the next few weeks is going to be is the critical question now for the rebels and the government,” Athas said.

The pro-LTTE website quoted LTTE sources as saying that the rebels have confronted a multi-pronged military advancement in the Kilinochchi and located seven dead soldiers. “The SLA’s push to advance through several fronts were thwarted after stiff fighting that continued throughout the night till Tuesday morning,” the website claimed.

Ministry of human rights and disaster management announced that the ministry of defence had taken “swift measures to establish a safe corridor” to let civilians in the LTTE-held territory enter government-held areas in Vavuniya.