The Lanka Academic

VOL. 1, NO. 26

Today's Feature

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MoD Press Release

Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 7.15 P.M. SLT - Monday, May 1. A press release from the Ministry of Defence today said, " On 30 April 2000 during daytime fierce fighting erupted in Pallai north of Elephant Pass,

ahead of the main defence line now being constructed after the vacation of the Elephant Pass camp. The delay positions which were deployed were engaged by terrorists simultaneously with a heavy volume of artillery and mortar fire."

"The troops manning positions in Ittavil northeast of Pallai were engaged by the terrorists from north and south at the same time. They were forced to withdraw towards Vepatukerni with a large number of casualties. Similarly troops deployed in Pulopallai and Pallai too withdrew in contact with enemy after receiving heavy casualties".

"Troops are now deployed in their delaying positions in areas north of Pallai ahead of the main defence line."

"During this withdrawal in contact 01 officer and 13 soldiers were killed in action. 14 officers and 222 soldiers were wounded in action."

Tigers take Pallai, SLA confirms loss

Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 5.30 p.m. SLT Monday May 1. The LTTE Sunday April 30, in a press release issued from its London office said the combat formations of the rebels had overran the massive military base at Pallai. The area lies about 15 kilometeres north of Elephant Pass. The Tiger statement says "The well-fortified and strategically crucial garrison town fell to the LTTE fighters Sunday evening around 6p.m. (SLT) after 12 hours of ferocious fighting. The special commando units of the LTTE backed by heavy artillery and mortar bombardment launched a multi-pronged attack on the central military base at Pallai in the early hours of the morning. After intense fighting that lasted several hours, the Tamil Tiger commandos stormed into the military base inflicting heavy casualties on the Sri Lankan troops. The LTTE fighting units have also destroyed several mini-camps and the heavily guarded artillery base."

The LTTE further claims that it will today hand over the bodies of 50 soldiers to the ICRC. The rebels say they have now advanced further north bringing a large track of territory in Themarachchi under their control "facilitating their advance towards Jaffna."

Brigadier Sarath Fernando confirmed the LTTE have taken over Pallai, denying however that the Tigers overran a huge garrison at Pallai. He admitted that troops were pushed back to new defence lines now being constructed further north in the aftermath of Elephant Pass . The Brigadier refused to name the area in which the defence lines are being constructed.

Brigadier Fernando said that the rebels took "delayed positions at Pallai while construction of new defence lines further north is taking place." He said the delayed postions are "not well prepared" which resulted in the rebel takeover.

Brigadier Fernando maintained that One Officer and 13 soldiers were killed yesterday as a result of the fighting while another 200 men suffered minor injuries. The Brigadier said he was unaware that the Tigers were to hand over the bodies of 50 soldiers (that are recognizable) killed in action at Pallai to the ICRC. "I am not aware of this, I will need to check" he said.

The ICRC could not be contacted for clarification as today, May Day is an official holiday.

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