The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suffered heavy casualties in pitched fighting on the outskirts of Kilinochchi town on Sunday even as Colombo readied a team of high-level officials to fly to New Delhi to assuage concerns raised by India on civilian casualties.
The team, likely to be led by Basil Rajapaksa, senior adviser to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, would also carry the message that Sri Lanka was committed to a political settlement to the decades-old ethnic conflict and not a military one as was being portrayed. The fight with LTTE would however be carried on as the administration here looked upon them as terrorists and not as the representatives of the Tamil community, the Lankan team would convey.
President Rajapaksa told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a telephone conversation on Saturday that security forces here were “engaged in an operation to disarm the LTTE and restore democracy, peace and stability to the region,” suggesting that the defeat of the Tigers was not only good for Sri Lanka but also for India.
The defence ministry said on Sunday advancing troops have captured fresh territories, including bunkers from the rebels after hours of heavy fighting on the outskirts of LTTE’s political and administrative nerve centre Kilinochchi. The troops pierced an earth bund in Akkarayankulam, the terrorists’ last major defence.
“Battlefield sources confirmed the terrorists suffered attrition… the LTTE was making a desperate attempt to retain their last major foothold that gives vital life line for the terror outfit across the Palk Strait,” the ministry said.