Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has been frequently bombing LTTE positions in the Wanni for the past week. LTTE positions in Nachchikuda, Kilinochchi, Mankulam and Pooneryn have been hit during these aerial raids. Not only have the Air Force deployed its bombers but increased use of gunships of the 9th attack helicopter squadron was also noticeable.
Air attacks have increased at a time when the LTTE has showed willingness to engage in close quarter fighting against advancing troops. Battles in southern Kilinochchi in the last 10 days have seen the LTTE deploying their experienced cadres heavily to the front line. The move was anticipated by the army and was only a question of 'when' the tigers would resort to this strategy rather than 'if'.
SLA troops closing in on Kilinochchi experienced fierce LTTE resistance in Nachchikuda, Akkarayankulam and Vennerikulam last week. The 20km long and 6 feet high earth bund the tigers have constructed runs between these areas. Both parties have suffered casualties while the SLA tried to breach the LTTE defense line. The tigers have managed to hold off the army advance on two occasions but these have not been 'flawless victories' as pro LTTE media claim. Military Intelligence has the names of 60 LTTE cadres killed in last week's fighting while the SLA has breached the LTTE line at more than 5 locations. Around 4KM of the LTTE line (at various locations) is now under SLA control.
Tigers have been reinforcing their defenses in Nachchikuda and Vennerikulam using cadres previously deployed in Muhamalai/Nagarkovil axis. They cannot afford to overdo this as SLA has 55 and 53 divisions deployed on the national front ready to advance south at any time. MI estimates the LTTE manpower on the Muhamalai/Kilali/Nagarkovil axis to be around 800.