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Lankan forces strike LTTE-held area

The LTTE says that the victims of military attacks have been civilians, including women and children, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2007 18:59 IST

In a significant development in the last few days, Sri Lankan forces and their Tamil auxiliaries had been striking deep into LTTE-held territories in the North-East of the island, including an area believed to be hosting the main communication base of the Tiger chieftain, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

But the LTTE says that these forays had not inflicted any military losses and that the victims were civilians, including women and children.

On Thursday, two Air Force Kfir supersonic bombers struck Alampil on the North-Eastern coastline.

The government said that it had destroyed a major Sea Tiger base there. And on Friday, the Deep Penetration Unit of the Army struck at Nedunkerni, south west of Alampil.

A few days ago, for the first time, the Karuna group, believed to be aligned with the Security Forces, staged a major attack on three LTTE camps in the Thoppigala jungles in the Eastern district of Batticaloa, and claimed to have killed 34 LTTE cadres before withdrawing.

On Tuesday, the Air Force bombed Padaguthurai on the Mannar coast, in North West Sri Lanka, saying that it was a Sea Tiger base involved in smuggling explosives and warlike accessories from India across the Palk Strait.

These air and ground deep penetration attacks were in line with the Sri Lankan Army Chief, Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka's resolve to drive the LTTE out of the entirety of the North and the East at the earliest opportunity.

Fonseka told the media in Kandy, that after taking the East in two or three months, he proposed to throw in all his forces into driving the rebels out of the North also.

LTTE says victims were civilians

The LTTE's military spokesman, Rasaiah Ilanthirayan, told Hindustan Times that the Air Force had failed to hit any military targets in Alampil, and that the bombs had fallen on civilian houses injuring a nine-year-old boy and a 61-year-old lady.

On the attack on Nedunkerni by the Deep Penetration Unit, he said that the intruders had placed a claymore mine which killed two Agriculture Department officials and injured two other civilians.

The Army had also shelled the area from its camps in Padaviya in Trincomalee district, further south.

The LTTE had been relatively silent on the Karuna group's attack in Thoppigala. But spokesman Ilanthirayan said that the attackers had been beaten back and that the LTTE's units had even captured a Karuna cadre.

One body was handed over to the truce monitors, he added.

The bombing of Padaguthurai in Mannar district had received flak from human rights activists as the 16 dead were all civilians.

The Bishop of Mannar, Rev Royappu Joseph, said that there were no LTTE military installations in the vicinity and that the targeting of civilians was a "crime against humanity."

First Published: Jan 05, 2007 12:58 IST