Sri Lanka Artillery Barrage Halts Mannaar City

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TAMILNET reports that ‘Normalcy has been disturbed in Mannaar city Tuesday from 8:10 am as the Sri Lanka Army mounted an artillery barrage simultaneously from all its camps in Mannaar towards Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam territories.’

This was reportedly after an artillery box barrage carried out by the Tigers targeting Tha’l’laadi garrison.

The SLA soldiers manning the sentry posts along the causeway between Mannaar island and Tha’l’laadi garrison pulled back to the city as LTTE fired artillery shells began hitting their positions in the morning.

All traffic to and from Mannaar city has halted and mobile phone links were cut off.

The city was shaken by the deafening sound of an outgoing artillery barrage, according to initial reports.

The SLA began firing Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) and artillery shells from their bases in Maanthai, Uyilangkul’am, South Bar and the Tha’l’laadi garrison.

The artillery duel comes after a three-pronged SLA ground push was thwarted Monday evening in Pa’ndivirichchaan area.

Meanwhile, 2 SLA soldiers and a civilian (a boy) were wounded during a SLA-launched cordon and search operation in the 100-houses-scheme at Periyaakamam situated between Mannaar and Thalaimannaar Monday night around 2:00 am.

Armed men exchanged gunfire during an encounter by the Sri Lankan forces that attempted to seize a stock of supplies.

Meanwhile, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Operations Command in Mannaar Monday said the Tigers thwarted a three-pronged ground push by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) along Pa’ndivirichchaan – Madu Road. The movement by the SLA, launched at 1:30 am. was defeated at one of the fronts within an hour.

Heavy fighting was reported at the remaining two fronts on either sides of the road till the SLA was pushed back at 3:45 pm, the Tigers said.

Claiming that the SLA sustained heavy casualties in direct clashes, the Tigers said they mounted attacks on SLA units during their retreat, causing further casualties.

Also, at Kaddaiyadampan, a Deep Penetration Unit of the Sri Lanka Army was confronted by a specialised reconnaissance detection team of the Tigers who seized four Claymore mines with remote control devices and batteries after the encounter, according to the LTTE operations command in Mannaar.

• Sri Lanka Navy personnel shot and killed a fisherman from Tamil Nadu by firing on his boat on the Palk Strait on Sunday.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi was the first to condemn the ‘indiscriminate firing’ by the SLN.

The Chief Minister has ‘taken steps to draw Sri Lankan Government’s attention to the issue through the Centre,’ according to an official press release from Chennai.

Thangapandi, 35, from Jegadapattinam in Pudukottai district had gone to the sea off Dhanushkodi coast for fishing. He was accompanied by two other fishermen, Idumban and Babu. They were nearing the maritime border when SLN personnel opened fire indiscriminately.

Thangapandi died on the spot, while his friends managed to flee the scene with his body.

Expressing shock and grief over the incident, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister also ordered a compensation of Rs 100,000 to the bereaved family.

• According to a report in the ‘Times of India’, a high-level team from the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and Sri Lanka Military Intelligence Corps (MIC) were brought stealthily into Pune five days ago for advanced intelligence training at the Indian Army’s various high-security institutions.’

The team is expected to be briefed on advanced electronic warfare, command, control, communications and computer intelligence at the Military Intelligence Training School and Depot (MITSD), the only institution of the Indian Army which imparts training in all aspects of intelligence.

The training assumes added significance in the backdrop of recent statements by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta that Indian Navy and Coast Guard had shared intelligence with the Sri Lanka Navy regarding movement of LTTE Sea Tiger boats in the Palk Strait and Gulf of Mannar.

The secret visit reportedly comes as a precursor to the setting up of an intelligence training school in Sri Lanka.

The news report further quoted a senior Indian defence official: ‘Unlike other foreign countries’ delegations that visit the National Defence Academy, the Lankan trio were detailed on the entire spectrum of activities of the academy.’

The three-member team from General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU), Colombo, is being led by Major General S.K. Balasuriya, Commandant and Vice Chancellor of the university, and include Lieutenant Colonel A.L.P.S. Tillekeratne, Commanding Officer of the Training Wing, and W.M. Amaradasa, Acting Director of the Academic Service.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the key ally of the ruling Congress, has not invited the JVP to its 19th Annual Meet to be held in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

The boycott of the extreme Sinhala nationalist party, that has been a regular attendee of CPI-M meetings since the 1970s, comes in the wake of heightened Tamil sentiments prevailing in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu where the CPI-M looks forward to consolidating its base.

According to reports in the Indian media, the non-invitation of the JVP has been attributed as an attempt ‘to please the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu.’

A senior politburo member of the CPI-M has reportedly said that JVP’s increasingly exhibiting its Sinhalese chauvinistic nature was the reason to keep the JVP away this time.

‘The JVP has always proclaimed the unitary state of Sri Lanka and opposed any kind of ceasefire with the LTTE’ whereas their party stands ‘for a resolution of the crisis through mutual dialogue.’

Since CPI-M considers Tamil Nadu a ‘priority state’ where growth of party influence is possible, the party has been unapologetic about keeping the JVP out of their annual conclave, according to informed sources in Tamil Nadu.