Lankan air force bombs outskirts of LTTE HQ town

The Air Force bombed the outskirts of Kilinochchi, the northern town which houses LTTE's headquarters, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2006 18:08 IST

The Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) bombed the outskirts of Kilinochchi, the northern town which houses the headquarters of the LTTE, as ground troops, supported by artillery and the air force, moved two kilometers into Sampur in Trincomalee district.

The LTTE's spokesman, Thaya Master, told Hindustan Times over the phone from Kilinochchi, that the Air Force had bombed a jungle area east of the town at about 9.45 am.

There were no reports of casualties, he added.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan ground troops had moved one kilometer into Sampur, Thaya Master said.

While the army website said that troops had gone two kilometers into Sampur, the military spokesman Brig Prasad Samarasinghe told Hindustan Times that there was no ground movement as there was no intention on the part of the army to take over Sampur.

"Our intention is to neutralize the artillery pieces and mortars in Sampur to ensure the safety of the Trincomalee harbour.

For this we have deployed the artillery and the air force. Ground troops might move in if necessary," he said.

"Within the next few days, the LTTE's guns in Sampur will be silent," he added.

Army chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka had told Daily Mirror on Thursday that ground troops had captured Kattaiparichchan and would take over Sampur "100%" in the next few days.

The Mahinda Rajapaksa government has made no secret of its intention to seize Sampur or at least put the LTTE's gun and mortars there out of commission.

As the President told the Norwegian peace brokers, there could be no cessation of hostilities till the LTTE's chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, gave a "personal and credible assurance" that Sampur would not be used to stage attacks on the Trimcomalee harbour.

However, independent military observers feel that taking Sampur may not be that easy because the LTTE had apparently dug in at Sampur since 2003, given its strategic position of being at the mouth of the Trincomalee harbour.

The Tamilnet website said that on Wednesday, there was aerial bombardment of Iyakkachchi, just north of Elephant Pass.

Many other areas in Thenmarachchi, including Palai, were also bombed.

The LTTE's military spokesman Rasaiah Ilanthirayan has been saying that the Sri Lankan forces are on an offensive to take over Elephant Pass, which lies between Thenmarachchi and Wanni, where Kilinochchi is.

Elephant Pass was with the Sri Lankan Army till April 2000, when it was captured by the LTTE in a land and sea operation.

First Published: Aug 31, 2006 17:57 IST