Sri Lankan troops begin fierce attack on rebels: Government tries to cut vital guerrilla supply route in Jaffna peninsula
Friday 01 October 1993
Troops, backed by air force bombers and heavy artillery, had thrust into the Jaffna peninsula in an attempt to cut off a vital guerrilla supply route, military sources and defence analysts said. About 175 rebels, 125 soldiers and 40 civilians had been killed in three days of fierce fighting, bombing and shelling.
Government security forces have been fighting a bitter 10-year war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who want a separate state in the north and east for the minority Tamil community.
Troops advanced about 14km (nine miles) northwards from their base in Elephant Pass in the biggest offensive in more than a year.
'The rebels are heavily entrenched in that area,' a military analyst said. 'They are in an ambush position, therefore troop casualties have been very high. Now they are deep in rebel territory, attacked from all sides. That is why they have resorted to such heavy firepower.'
Military officials said most of the army casualties occurred on Wednesday, during infantry charges and rebel mortar attacks. A statement from the Defence Ministry said 91 soldiers, including six officers, had been killed and 175 wounded.
'During the advance, troops inflicted heavy casualties to the terrorists. It was confirmed that troops destroyed a well-fortified terrorist women's camp, including several lines of their defences,' the statement said. It also said air force fighters and artillery had destroyed rebel targets.
Military sources said the objective was to try to seal off the Kilali lagoon crossing in the peninsula, which is used by the Tigers. While the rebels control most of the Jaffna peninsula, the military has bases from which it can launch operations. The military has sealed off land routes to the peninsula but rebels still use the lagoon to travel to and from the mainland. The lagoon is out of bounds for all boats but is still used by civilians who have no other means of travel.
Patrolling navy gunboats have had several fierce clashes with rebel boats. The Tigers use suicide fighters who ram navy boats with explosive-laden vessels. In August this year, 21 sailors died and three boats were destroyed in suicide attacks.
'The operation seems to have been triggered off by the recent attacks. The only way to stop movements across the lagoon is to control the shore,' another analyst said.
'That way, the rebels will have to break through the troops to get on the lagoon and take on the navy. The lagoon is the only access the Tigers have to the mainland, so it is very important for them,' he said.
- 2 Qataris pledge to expand Canary Wharf
- 3 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
#JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
UK election candidates: 'Nasty party' Ukip faces fresh questions on eve of vote
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party's the right choice for you
Ohio 'Shawshank Redemption' fugitive Frank Freshwater arrested after 56 years on the run
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General election live: Booths open at 7am across the country on polling day
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...