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SL troops captured LTTE air strip

world Updated: Jan 10, 2009 19:25 IST

Pushing further into the remaining Tamil Tiger-held territories, Sri Lankan troops on Saturday captured an LTTE airstrip in the rebel stronghold of Mullaittivu as 20 guerrillas were killed in fierce clashes in the island's embattled north, the military said.

"Troops operating in the Mullativu area captured an LTTE airstrip together with two empty hangars this morning," a defence ministry official said in Colombo.

He said this was the fourth airstrip captured by the Sri Lankan troops and was located five km west of Mullaittivu lagoon with a length of 2.5 km and a width of 100 metres. In firce ground clashes, at least 20 Tamil Tigers were killed as troops advanced to clear the rebel areas around the fallen LTTE de facto capital of Killinocchi and consolidate their position in the just-captured strategic Elephant Pass, the army said.

Sri Lankan Defence Ministry said after the fall of Elephant Pass, which links the Jaffna peninsula with the rest of the mainland, troops are are now poised at "launching a decisive blow at the remaining LTTE strong points at Mulliyan, Chempiyanpattu, Chundikulam and Kaddaikadu." "The fall of EPS has deprived the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the most crucial strategic ground, at the 'Jaffna gateway', following an eight year occupation," it said. Troops consolidating positions after clashes in north of Murusamoddai near Kilinochchi have recovered nine bodies of LTTE cadres and a cache of military hardware yesterday, the Ministry quoted security sources as saying.