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LTTE space is shrinking, says ministry

world Updated: Feb 28, 2009 00:37 IST

Sri Lankan forces on Friday drove deeper into the remaining areas held by the beleaguered LTTE in the island’s north and killed at least 19 Tamil Tigers, including its senior commander, even as the rebels put up a stiff resistance.

Intense fighting was reported in Ampalavanpokkanai and Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mullaittivu as troops of the 58 Division further gained control over more LTTE-held areas in Wanni region, the defence ministry said.

Infantrymen of the 10 Sri Lanka Light Infantry inflicted heavy damages to the Tigers in the general area of Ampalavanpokkani, it said. The LTTE is now confined to a small area in the Wanni jungles.

Intercepted LTTE communication channels confirmed the rebels had suffered heavy losses, the ministry said.

In subsequent search operations conducted in the area, troops found two bodies of LTTE cadres, it said, adding that a huge cache of arms were also recovered from the area.

LTTE cadres who put up stiff resistance on advancing troops for defending their last stronghold suffered damages, it said.

An LTTE ground commander, known as Shankar, who led the battle against security forces in the Puthukudiyi-ruppu area, was killed during the fighting, ground troops said.

‘Media repressed’

The arrest of a top Sri Lankan Tamil newspaper editor is a sign of “repression” of media critical of the government, a rights group said Friday.

Nadesapillai Vidyatharan, chief editor of Sudar Oli and Uthayan, was detained by police while attending a funeral. The police first said he was abducted and later admitted detaining Vidyatharan in connection with a recent suicide air attack by the LTTE in Colombo.