The Lanka Academic

APRIL 10, 2000
VOL. 1, NO. 5

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Heavy fighting continue in northern Jaffna Peninsula

Heavy fighting broke out between the Sri Lanka army (SLA) and the LTTE on the A9 highway between Eluthumadduval and Muhamaalai in Northern Jaffna Peninsuala in the early hours of today. The battle began when the army made yet another attempt to re-capture more than six kilometers of this road, the main supply line to the strategically important Elephant Pass military camp.

Reports from the area quoting residents in Chavakachcheri said that the armyin Kodikamam has been heavily bombarding the positions of the LTTE on the A9 highway south of Eluthumadduval and close to Nagar Kovil at dawn today. The LTTE launch a major offensive 10 days ago in the Jaffna peninsula which military analysts say is aimed at cutting off the Elepant Pass camp from rest of the Peninsula. The LTTE caders inflitrated heavy guarded military positions and captured areas in the eastern sea board before cutting off the main supply route. The army has launched repeated attacks to recapture the road but the rebels have beaten back the offensives from concerete bunker positions captured from the army in the first day of fighting. Military analysts say if the rebels can induct large number of re inforcements into the area the army would be hard pressed to stop an offensive towards Jaffna from the current positions held by the LTTE. The President ordered the Commanders of the Army, Air Force and the Navy to rush to the main military instellation in the Peninsula in Palali and take personal charge of the situation. Reliable casualty figures are not available but residents military sources say both sides have taken heavy casualties in 10 days of intense fighting.

Leading buddhist priests turn down President's invitation for talks

Despite growing controversy from monks and Sinhala groups demanding that President Kumaratunge meet with the Mahanayake Theras to discuss proposed constitutional reforms, the Mahanayake Theras turned down an invitation from the President to meet with her today. A spokeman for the Asgiriya Chapter said that the Mahanayake Theras will meet later this week to decide on a future course of action with regard to the proposed package and foreign mediation. The President had requested the meeting at her official residence -the "Temple Trees" saying security considerations made it difficult for her to visit the Mahanayakes.

The decision of the Mahanayake Theras comes after an emotional demonstration was held in Colombo last week to protest against foreign mediation. The Norwegian flag was burnt in the protest and a BBC Correspondent assualted.

Police launch major investigation following grenade attack on police post guarding the Kotmale reservoir

Ten suspects were arrested Monday 10, in connection with yesterday's grenade attack on a police post at the Kotmale reservoir. One police constable was killed and a homeguard critically wounded when the grenade was thrown at the Moragalla police checkpoint. Police has launched a major search operation in the area. The Mahawali reserviors are heavily guarded amidst fears that the LTTE may attempt to blow one of the large reserviors. This is the first attack on a police post set up to guard the reserviors. The Police say it still not clear who was responsbile for the attack.

President promises relief to families of soldiers missing in action

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge is to provide relief to families of persons disappeared as a result of the ongoing war. Families of hundreds of Sri Lankan security personnel listed as missing in action pledged to march to LTTE controlled areas to free their kin if the government did not secure their release.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says the LTTE still holds some 11 security personnel and 12 civilians. E. P. Nanayakkara, President of the Association of the Relatives of Servicemen Missing in Action says his organization had evidence that more than one thousand servicemen were still being held captive by the Tigers. The organisation threatened to begin a fast on to death unless the government took steps to getthe release of those been held by the LTTE.

Sri Lanka army's elite Commando regiment taking heavy losses in northern fighting call for fresh recruitment.

The commando regiment of the Sri Lankan army which is part of the SLA's elite 53 division called for new recruits today. The call comes amidst reports that a large number of the 53 division's commandos were killed or injuredin the current fighting in the Jaffna peninsusla. The troops of the elite commondo,Rapid Deeployment Force and the Air Mobile Force has seen the brunt of fighting in and around the Elephant Pass army camp. The Commanding Officer of the special forces in the Peninsula was shifted out three days ago but the Army has not explained the reasons for the sudden move. Military sources say that the Commanding Officer had left his post near Elephant Pass and shifted to Palali when the fighting broke out. The 53 division was specially trained by the US Special Forces, brigades of the 53 division have taken the brunt of the LTTE's Unceasing Waves III offensive since November last year.

The recruitment will begin from April 24 to May 10 at fourteen centres. It will be done on staggered basis in Kurunegala, Matara, Ampara, Anuradhapura, Wellavaya, Badulla, Kaduruwela, Matale, Galle, Kegalle and Kalutara, Awissawela, Ganemulla and Kandy the Ministry of Defence said in a communique issued this afternoon. Youth between 18 - 24 can apply according to the MoD release. The basic educational qualification required for those enrolling into the 53 division, according to the MoD, is grade eight and nine.

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