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Sri Lanka army enters visuamadu

The Sri Lankan army entered the Visuamadu area in north Lanka, one the remaining areas where the Tamil Tigers are holed up surrounded by displaced civilians, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

world Updated: Jan 28, 2009 20:32 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The Sri Lankan army (SLA) on Wednesday entered the Visuamadu area in north Lanka, one the remaining areas where the Tamil Tigers are holed up surrounded by displaced civilians.

Visuamadu, located in the Mullaitivu district, is a highly populated area with thousands of original inhabitants other than the displaced who have moved in to take shelter. The area is largely open with lagoons and patches of jungle.

It was learnt that while the SLA had by Wednesday evening established overwhelming presence in the area, Visuamadu would be declared captured later tonight or on Thursday.

The army said the remaining LTTE cadres had taken shelter behind civilians and firing long-range artillery guns at the troops.

``Troops of the 58 Division after hours of fierce fighting that ensued with LTTE have reached the Visuamdu junction, this afternoon. LTTE resistances were rattled during the multi-frontal military assault, ground sources said adding that scores of terrorists were killed and many injured during the fighting,'' the defence ministry said.

It was learnt that the SLA limited the use of artillery guns and instead used ground maneuvers to outflank the LTTE cadres. The army was putting in use its `direction finding system' to locate the rebels' artillery guns.

The SLA had been pushing towards the area, considered a key defence position, for months now, often under the protective cover of the Sri Lankan air force (SLAF)

Clearing operations were on till late Wednesday with pockets of LTTE cadres continuing to fight the advancing army.

Meanwhile, the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) on Wednesday said that hundreds of people have been killed and scores of wounded were overwhelming the understaffed and ill-equipped medical facilities in Sri Lanka's north.

Jacques de Maio, the ICRC head of operations for South Asia in Geneva, said that this followed intensified fighting between security forces and the LTTE.

"The violence is preventing the ICRC from operating in the region," he added.

The terrified civilian population is in need of protection, medical care and basic assistance, according to the ICRC.

An estimated 250,000 people are trapped in a 250 sq-km area, which has come under intense fighting. The people have no safe area to take shelter and were unable to flee, the statement said.

"When the dust settles, we may see countless victims and a terrible humanitarian situation unless civilians are protected and international humanitarian law is respected in all circumstances," said de Maio.

"It is high time to take decisive action and stop further bloodshed because time is running out."