After their recent capture of major LTTE stronghold of Pooneryn, Task Force 1 (TF1) units are now moving towards their next objective; the Paranthan junction. So far, they have managed to capture around 15km along the Pooneryn – Paranthan road (B-69).
Meanwhile several media (including pro LTTE web sites) have reported that SLA suffered high casualties in the capture of Pooneryn town. This is not true. In the actual operation that lead to the capture of Pooneryn town center, 4 SLA soldiers were killed and 29 were injured. 12 of the injured were SLA’s elite Special Forces units. At the time this operation was launched there were around 150 tigers still trapped in Pooneryn. Some were killed and some managed to escape via sea route. A large haul of weapons and ammunition was captured from the tigers. Images of the captured weapons will soon be released to the public.
On the other hand, SLA casualties were comparatively high during the recent SLA advance on LTTE’s Muhamalai FDL. This was expected. The thin stretch of open terrain at Muhamalai always gives the defender an added advantage. Nevertheless, LTTE had to fall back when SLA units from the 55 and 53 divisions stormed their FDL amidst a rain of bullets and heavy weapons fire. It was here the tigers felt the loss of Pooneryn for the first time – usual artillery barrage from LTTE’s 130mm howitzers stationed in Pooneryn was not available. However the tigers still managed to inflict heavy casualties on SLA units mainly through the hundreds of mines and booby traps laid practically everywhere ahead of LTTE FDL. They also used gas attacks on advancing forces. Amidst this fierce resistance, SLA have so far captured an area of 9-10 square kilometers including the first defence line of the tigers in Muahmalai/Kilali. In addition to the usual three defence lines, MI has received information that the tigers have built a fourth line further south. SLA operations are still continuing in this area.
Meanwhile 3 soldiers were killed and 13 more were injured in an incident during a training exercise near Nochchiyagama SLA training base. Around 300 soldiers from the 10th Sri Lanka National Guard (10 SLNG) were being trained on searching civilians when gunshots were fired from behind a nearby house. It is still not confirmed if this was sabotage or was an unfortunate accident.