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Major breakthrough for SL army

The Sri Lankan army claimed their first major success on the very first of 2009 with the capture of the town of Paranthan, located close to Tamil Tigers' political hub of Kilinochchi. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Jan 01, 2009 20:14 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The Sri Lankan army (SLA) on Thursday claimed their first major success on the very first of 2009 with the capture of the town of Paranthan, located close to Tamil Tigers' political hub of Kilinochchi.

The SLA has wrested Paranthan after a decade of domination in the area by the rebels.

The defence ministry said the town was captured early on Thursday after fierce fighting between SLA troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

"Troops have also cut off the vital access routes towards Paranthan along the A-9 highway from north and south, reportedly killing over 50 terrorists, while injuring twice as many numbers during the intense battles," the defence ministry statement said.

The ministry added: "the fall of Paranthan, the well-fortified LTTE garrison, has isolated the southern periphery of the Elephant Pass LTTE foothold and has also exposed the LTTE's main fortification at Kilinochchi."

The battle for Paranthan began in the early hours on Tuesday with the artillery and infantry battalions launching a concerted assault on the garrison town. Troops took on the well fortified LTTE resistance positions during "surprise manoeuvres" made behind enemy lines. Movement on the ground was backed by aerial bombardment.

The ministry, quoting military sources, said the fighting was "fierce and prolonged for hours until terrorists were completely beaten by the determined soldiers LTTE fighting formations mainly from the Imran Pandiyan unit led by its 'Kilinochchi-in-charge', Velavan and Jerom had made successive attempts to gain lost ground only to be left with more casualties and damages."

The SLA had wrested Paranathn from the LTTE during the 'Sathjaya 1 & 2' military campaign conducted in 1996. "However, troops had to make a tactical withdrawal in September 1998," the ministry said.

Till Thursday evening, the LTTE did not react to the claims made by the Lankan government.