Sri Lankan forces today fought their way to just 800 meters from the area where an estimated 10,000-15,000 Tamil civilians are trapped along with the top LTTE leadership, capturing a Tiger fortification and killing a number of rebels.
The government troops pushed into the rebel-held village of Karayamulliavaikkal, advancing over areas heavily mined by the Tigers and fighting off attacks from their suicide bombers.
A military spokesman said the troops had breached through the last earthen fortification bringing them as close as 800 meters of the area in Mullaitivu, where the LTTE leadership is holed up in the midst of Tamil civilians.
The spokesman said the Tigers are deploying suicide bombers in the large numbers to slow down the Sri Lankan advance from overrunning them. Though estimates are not available, military sources say that between 500 to 1,000 hardcore black Tigers have formed a last wall of defence around Tiger supremo V Prabhakaran and others.
The LTTE has built the earthen fortification to delay the Lankan troops. After the battle, bodies of three LTTE rebels killed during the confrontation were found.
Troops also found a huge cache of arms including assault rifles and radio communication sets.
Two T-56 weapons and one I-Com radio set were also found in the same clearing operation conducted by the security forces following fierce fighting.
"LTTE rebels are desperately attempting to hold the security forces' advance by launching indiscriminate indirect firing and using their heavy weapons mounted in the No Fire Zone," the Defence ministry said quoting military officials.
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama had said that more pressure must be brought upon the LTTE by the international community. This should include punitive measures on its international network present in the UK.
Meanwhile, clashes continued in the Vellamullivaikkal area in near the NFZ yesterday when advancing troops met with LTTE resistance.
Troops also conducted search operations in Ampalavanpokkanai, Nelwelikulam, Kuppilankulam, Waduvakkal, Murusumudai and Nachchikuda areas and recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunitions, the army said.