The Lanka Academic

APRIL 21, 2000 PST
VOL. 1, NO. 16

Today's Feature

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LTTE Claims Yakachi Army bases fall

The LTTE following its press release Thursday April 20, today said all Sri Lankan Army bases at Yakachi fell to the Tigers. Brigadier Palitha Fernando, official spokesman for the military was not available for comment.

LTTE says Sri Lanka army base at Yakachi nearly overun

The LTTE said in a statement issued from its London office Thursday, April 20, that the Sri Lanka Army base at Yakachchi is "on the verge of collapse." The claim by the Tigers comes in the wake of a multi-pronged assault in which several peripheral camps according to the rebels were overrun.

The LTTE in its statement says, "Yakachchi military base, the last bastian protecting the Elephant Pass Camp, is on the verge of collapse as the combat formations of the Liberation Tigers mounted a massive, multi-pronged assault and over-ran several mini-camps and defense positions on the periphery of this giant complex today."

"A large number of Sri Lankan troops were killed and injured as the battle of Yakachchi continued ferociously all day. Dark black clouds enveloped the sky above the base complex as huge ammunition dumps exploded after being hit by the heavy artillery and mortar fire from the LTTE positions."

The LTTE maintains that heavy fighting continues in the area which was isolated and surrounded by the Tigers when the rebels overran Massar and Soranpattu areas yesterday and cut off the main supply links with the rest of the peninsula including the rail tracks and gravel lanes.

Military spokeman Brigadier Palitha Fernando denied that government troops lost 4 kilometeres on the A9 to the rebels yesterday. The battle which began in the afternoon on Tuesday the 18th, entered its third day today.

Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have complained that Sri Lankan troops Thursday prevented the relief organization from supplying medicines to health clinics in the Vanni. The complaint comes in the wake of the Medicines sans Frontier (MSF) who three days ago also made a similar complaint claiming that government troops were preventing much needed drugs from reaching the sick in the Vanni. Almost all civilians in the Vanni rely on ICRC supplies.

Government appoints Janaka Perera as overall commander for N & E.

President Chandrika Kumaratunge appointed Major General Janaka Perera as the overall commander for north and east provinces following heavy fighting between government troops and Tiger rebels at the gates of the Elephant Pass military complex.

Heavy fighting in Northern Sri Lanka as tamil rebels overrun more camps

Tamil rebels claimed today that the Yakachchi army base north of Elephant Pass was on the verge of falling to their hands as the army confirmed that heavy fighting was raging in the area.

"Yakachchi military base, the last bastion protecting the Elephant Pass camp, is on the verge of collapse as the combat formations of the Liberation Tigers mounted a massive,multi-pronged assault and over-ran several mini camps and defense positions on the periphery of this giant complex" a rebel communiqu‚ issued from London said. The rebels claimed that huge ammunition dumps were hit by rebel artillery and mortar fire.

The rebels claiming that a large number of soldiers were killed in the fighting said it has surrounded the Yakachchi military complex and cut off the main supply links with the rest of the Jaffna peninsula. The voice of Tigers radio said 25 rebels died in action in the last 24 hours. The army however denied that the supply route has been cut off and reported heavy fighting in the area but gave no details of the situation today. Earlier the Military spokesman Brigadier Palitha Fernando said 21 soldiers were killed and 213 injured in the fighting on Wednesday.

Yakachchi is strategically important to maintain the Elephant Pass camp since the only fresh water wells are located in Yakachchi. If Yakachchi falls to the rebels the Elephant Pass camp would be without fresh water.

As the situation in and around Elephant Pass army camp deteriorated the Army rushed two of their top field commanders to the North. Major General Janaka Perera ,the deputy chief of Staff of the Army has been appointed as overall operations Commander for both Jaffna and Wanni. General Perera, a highly regarded field commander has been side lined in recent months due to differences with the political leadership. The army has also rushed Major General Sarath Fonseka another highly regarded officer to Jaffna as well.The entire military leadership is now in Jaffna over seeing operations as the LTTE threatened to re-take the peninsula from the army.

ICRC stops medicine transport to Wanni

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday that it would not transport medical supplies to the north because its monthly consignment had been drastically reduced by the Sri Lankan government. A spokesman for the ICRC said it was of no use to send the small amount approved by the defense Ministry.The spokesman said only 14 of the 45 variety approved by the defense ministry has been approved by the military authorities in Vavuniya while the quantity has also been drastically reduced. Military officials say they are concerned that the medicine would be used by the rebels to treat their cadres injured in the current bloody battles in the north.

Sri Lanka support to establish an International mechanism on human rights defenders.

The Sri Lankan government has backed a Norwegian proposal to set up an International mechanism on human rights defenders. In a statement at the 56th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, the government said that "every human being is also a human rights defender, as human beings are both the beneficiaries and promoters of human rights.Human rights defenders and those who seek democratic alternatives to violent dissension,are constantly at risk.The best way to expose those responsible for these acts of terror and violence , will be to have an impartial and neutral mechanism to ensure not only the rights, but the safety of human rights defenders and those who work for democratic dissent". Sri Lanka is the first developing country in Asia to co- sponsor this initiative led by Norway.

India to buy 15 million KGS of tea and eight million pieces of garments from Sri Lanka

India and Sri Lanka have finalized the procedures for export of 15 million kgs of tea and eight million pieces of garment from Sri Lanka to India under the quota provisions of the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement, the state owned Daily News newspaper reported today. (end)

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