(Updated) The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were locked in fierce firefights near the forward defense lines of Muhamalai today. Fighting started when SLA launched a limited offensive to capture part of LTTE defence line near Muhamalai. Both parties have suffered heavy casualties in the fierce firefights that raged on for more than two hours.
Fighting started at around 5.30 am morning and lasted till 7.30 am. LTTE used group based attack teams to provoke the SLA into a limited offensive. Soldiers of the 55th division walked into a guerilla killing field, falling for the trap which was set in advance by the tigers. Even under a worst case scenario, SLA soldiers were able to overrun several highly fortified LTTE bunkers in the frontline. However these had to be left behind as the LTTE resistance forced the troops back to their starting positions within two hours.
Intermittent artillery and mortar attacks are still continuing in the area. 23 SLA soldiers have been killed and more than 125 have been injured during today's fighting. At least 20 soldiers out of the wounded will not be able to return to battlefield due to the serious nature of their wounds. Much of the SLA casualties were due to land mines and artillery strikes. LTTE too suffered heavily in the battle and armed forces observed them deploy at least five tractors to evacuate casualties. Exact number of LTTE cadres killed or injured in the incident cannot be confirmed as of yet. However reliable intelligence reports suggest that at least 65 LTTE cadres were killed in action and an unknown number were wounded in the attack.
In addition to the above the following points can now be confirmed:
- LTTE has not captured nor damaged any MBTs (Main Battle Tank) or IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) belonging to the SLA as per reports by some media.
- Several light weapons including assault rifles, ammunition, RPG rounds and around 100 Hand grenades have been captured by the tigers.
- No heavy guns of the SLA were damaged nor captured.
- All SLA units involved in the operation have now returned to original positions.
This situation resembled a similar blunder made by the army last October where 175 soldiers were killed and over 400 were injured during a failed advance towards Pallai. Although the damages received and the number of lives lost in the latest operation are significantly less than that of last year's, it is still a huge morale booster for the tigers.