x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Sri Lanka maintains pressure on Tamils

Government troops have advanced on the military headquarters of the Tamil Tigers, a day after capturing the rebels' de facto political capital.

Government troops enter the Tamil Tiger political capital town of Kilinochchi, 330km north of Colombo.
Government troops enter the Tamil Tiger political capital town of Kilinochchi, 330km north of Colombo.

Sri Lankan troops have advanced on the military headquarters of the Tamil Tigers, a day after capturing the rebels' de facto political capital in the north of the island. The nation's defence ministry said ground forces, backed by helicopter gunships, were moving towards Mullaittivu, the jungle district along the northeastern seaboard, where the Tigers are known to have their main military facilities.

"The battle for Mullaitivu has already begun," the ministry said. The air force used Mi-24 helicopter gunships to carry out two bombing raids today in support of the advancing troops, a military spokesman said. He added that 10 such missions were carried out on Friday. The pro-rebel Tamilnet website reported that a petrol station and a bus station were bombed by the air force on Friday morning, killing four civilians and wounding another eight.

The defence ministry said government troops were also moving further north of their positions in Kilinochchi in a bid to retake the strategically vital Elephant Pass which was lost to the Tigers in April 2000. Elephant Pass lies at the entrance to the Jaffna peninsula which security forces wrested from rebel control in 1995. On Friday, after months of intense fighting, the military finally captured Kilinochchi, where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had gathered all the political trappings of a mini-state.

* AFP