Troops manoeuvring to open main road access to NFZ; hostage rescue
Sri Lankan soldiers of 53 and 58 Divisions were just
700m to 800m short of the bridge on the A-35 road (Paranthan -
Mullaittivu) at Vellaimullaivaikkal last night (Apr 18), defence sources
According to the sources, troops after a daylong march
along the A-35 axis readjusted their forward boundary that extend across
A-35 to the northern bank of the Nanthikadal lagoon. The manoeuvre is
aimed at opening up a main road access to the No Fire Zone [NFZ], where
nearly 70,000 civilians have been held hostage by LTTE terrorists, said
Battlefield reports indicated that troops have
encountered stiff resistance from the terrorists. Intercepted LTTE radio
transmissions revealed that 17 LTTE cadres were killed and 22 others
suffered injuries in the day's fighting. Also, troops found four T-56
rifles, and one radio communication set during subsequent search.
The NFZ is a 12 km long narrow stretch of land on the
northeastern coastline of the island containing about 17 square
kilometres. The government demarcated the area as a safety zone for the
civilians forcibly held by LTTE several months back. However, the area
has now become the main headquarters of the terrorists, with all their
main guns have been positioned and their leaders cowering among
civilians. The wide western frontage of the area is separated from the
mainland by an extension of Nanathikadal lagoon, leaving only a limited
space for the civilians to leave the area. The civilians have become the
slaves of the terror outfit that constantly exploit them at gunpoint.
The children have become the cannon fodder for the outfit while the rest
have been held as a human shield.
Sri Lankan troops are now engaged in an operation to
rescue these hostages from the LTTE grip, in which they are making
various manoeuvres to open up new safe routes for the civilians to seek
refuge with them.
Meanwhile, troops engaged in clearing operations in
the recently liberated areas in Wanni collected hauls of arms and other
warlike materials. Troops of 58 Division alone collected 30 T-56 rifles,
one multi purpose machine gun, a stock 490,000 small machine gun ammo,
750 ammo for T-56 rifles, 48 hand grenades, three suicide jackets, 23
RPG bombs, 10 artillery bombs (130 mm), two claymore mines, 14 mortar
bombs (60 mm), three radio communication sets, 11 improvised bombs.
Among the other items found included body armours, pouches and weapon