The Lanka Academic

 
MAY 12, 2000 EST, USA
 
A NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED BY LACNET
 
VOL. 1, NO. 37
 

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Lanka Minister's UK visit a quiet affair
Hindustan Times, May 12. The almost hush-hush and devoid-of-any-diplomatic-bustle visit to London of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar is assumed to have been for seeking arms and humanitarian assistance from the British Government. More..


India had okayed Israel-Lanka deal
Hindustan Times, May 12. INDIA HAD acquiesced to the Israeli deal to sell seven of its Kfir ground attack fighters to the Sri Lankan Government. These planes had been sold from the Israeli Air Force's own reserve fleet and the Pentagon's green signal was given as they are fitted out with engines supplied by the United States. More..


DEADLOCK AT JAFFNA DOORSTEP
The Telegraph, May 12. Douglas Devananda, leader of the Eelam People's Democratic Party, and a supporter of the battle against the LTTE, said he had called up foreign minister Jaswant Singh and requested "some form of intervention: military, humanitarian, whatever you call it".

However, the ground situation continued to belie the rebels' claim. Though the LTTE had claimed yesterday that Jaffna was "as good as gone", a political commentator said he had received a call from Jaffna that suggested life was normal and no fighting was reported in the vicinity. More..


Sri Lankan Army destroys LTTE supply route
The Hindu, May 13. The Sri Lankan security forces today claimed that they have destroyed a ``main supply route'' and ``the main communication tower'' of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) near Pooneryn. More..


DMK for Tamil Eelam through war or talks
The Statesman. The DMK leader, Mr M Karunanidhi, says his party is in favour of a separate Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka, "either through war or through negotiations". The statement, made in the Tamil Nadu Assembly today, is bound to embarrass the Vajpayee government, going as it does against the Prime Minister's stated position. More..


Is there more to Tipnis' trip?
Times of India, May 13. Sources at Temple Trees, the President's official residence in Colombo, say that Kumaratunga "dropped strong hints seeking Indian military support" during her tearful meeting, hour-long meeting with Tipnis.

At his meeting with the President the two are said to have had a general discussion on diverse issues such as the Sri Lankan air capacity and the President's desire to resolve the conflict and her personal sense of loss at the present situation. More..


India can't keep itself aloof
India Abroad, May 13. When the Sri Lankan crisis erupted, India helped the LTTE, adding to the burden of the Sri Lankan government. So India is also responsible for the problem that Sri Lanka is facing. The BJP should not narrow-mindedly think that these problems were created by the Congress government, but keep it in mind that the issue is concerned with India's future More..


India can't turn away from the Lankan problem: A fragmented Lanka spells trouble for India
India Abroad, May13. If Sri Lanka is fragmented, it is not good for India. It will be highly dangerous for Tamil Nadu. If a part of Sri Lanka comes under the control of LTTE, it is not good even for the Tamil population there.

That is why whenever LTTE gets an upper hand in Sri Lanka, many refugees are fleeing to Tamil Nadu. More..


India can't turn away from the Lankan problem: 'Parties have no concern for tamils in Lanka'
India Abroad, May 13. t is not true that the Sri Lankan army is engaged in fighting the Tamils. The clash in Sri Lanka is between the army and the LTTE, not an attack on Tamils. Here slogans are being raised: "Attacking the LTTE is the same as attacking the Tamils''. But that is not the fact. If their concern is really for the Sri Lankan Tamils, why haven't they condemned the murder of Tamil leaders like Amrithalingam, Padmanaba and leaders belonging to various Tamil groups by the LTTE? More..


Navy conducts limited exercises
Hindustan Times, May 12. THE EASTERN Fleet of the Indian Navy has conducted limited exercises involving a Kashin-class destroyer, Khukri-class corvettes, off-shore patrol vessels and the integral air element off the Chennai coast.

It is understood that the Indian Navy and Coast Guard have chalked out contingency plans keeping in view the intensified campaign of the Sri Lankan forces against the LTTE in Jaffna. More..


Air raids on Tiger positions intensified
Hindustan Times, Colombo, May 12. Government spokesman Ariya Rubasinghe today dismissed LTTE claims that the rebels overran two military bases at Kovilakandy and Tanankilappu yesterday and were closing in on Jaffna City Centre. Fighting in the Ariyalai sector has left two officers and seven soldiers killed and 86 wounded. More..

Sri Lankan troops dent rebels' offensive
MSNBC, May 12. Sri Lanka said on Friday that its troops had dented the Tamil Tiger rebels' offensive on the battle-scarred Jaffna peninsula, cutting off their main supply route from the island nation's mainland.

In a joint operation security forces had destroyed the jetty at Sangupiddy, which links a spur from the mainland to the peninsula across the Jaffna lagoon. It said they had also destroyed a rebel communication centre in Pooneryn, which lies at the base of the spur. More..


India extends ban on LTTE
Times of India, May 12. The ban, imposed in the aftermath of assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was to expire on May 14. Sources said the ban was extended on the basis of documents that suggested that the concept of Eelam, a separate homeland for Tamils, could become a threat to India too.


DMK for separate homeland for Lankan Tamils
Times of India, May 12. DMK President and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi told the Legislative Assembly: ``It will be a welcome situation if Tamil Eelam is formed either through talks or through a war in Sri Lanka.'' More..


Air Chief meets Jaswant
Indian Express: May 12.

Though, Air Marshal Tipnis was tightlipped, he is likely to brief the leadership here of the security situtation in Sri Lanka, fallout of the present fighting in Jaffna and views of Sri Lankan leaders on outside mediation to resolve the Tamil issue. More..


To the rescue of Lanka, how much, how far?
Indian Express, May 12. "Given the 80s experience of the Indian Peace keeping forces (IPKF), we can't send our forces...But I can't understand why we can't render military assistance to Sri Lanka, whose territorial integrity is threatened by an extremist, sectarian and secessionist organisation, which is banned in India," says Prof S D Muni, of the School of International studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University here. More..


Conditions grim as Sri Lanka war nears Jaffna-MSF
MSNBC, May 12. Living conditions in the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna have deteriorated rapidly since Tamil Tiger rebels pushed closer in their offensive against government troops, an aid agency said on Friday.

all but a few patients had been discharged from the city hospital -- which has about 1,000 beds -- because an army camp was nearby, and there was a shortage of medical supplies such as antibiotics and surgical materials. more...


Opposition leader says S.Lanka faces biggest crisis
MSNBC, May 12. The leader of Sri Lanka's main opposition party said on Friday the country faces its greatest crisis because of the fighting in the country's north and urged the government to look after the troops and civilians there.

''There are over 40,000 armed forces and police personnel stationed in the peninsula. Their families are concerned not only about their safety but also their welfare and transportation to and from Jaffna ... It should be our concern as well. More..


The Tamil Tigers close in
The Economist, May 13. The rumble of a country about to break up would rock not just Colombo but also Delhi, India's capital. It may not come to that. The Sri Lankan army could pull itself together. The Tigers' leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, will no doubt be tempted to declare independence if he takes Jaffna, but he may think better of it. More..

Sri Lanka: Victories for the Tigers
The Economist, May 9. The stunning military defeats suffered by the Sri Lankan army in recent weeks at the hands of Tamil Tiger separatists have pushed this once ignored civil war back on to the front pages of the world's newspapers. The spectacle of a supposedly modern, national army on the run from a small -- if well-armed -- guerrilla force has exposed a Sri Lankan military that is ill-prepared and a government that has been distant and disengaged. More..


Modern weapons to reach Jaffna in few weeks: Chandrika
Indian Express, May 12. Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has exhorted country's army to fight hard to save the Jaffna Peninsula from LTTE, assuring that the most modern weapons, equipment and technology to "silence" rebels' guns will reach Jaffna in a few weeks' time, reports PTI.

Urging the embattled soldiers to fight hard to defend the Northern Peninsula, Chandrika, who is also the commander in chief of the armed forces, described the ongoing battle for the control of Jaffna as the most "Decisive Movement" in the history of the ethnic conflict. More..


Sri Lanka Troops Hang on to Jaffna
Yahoo-Reuters, Friday May 12 9:09 AM ET. State-owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation said in a news bulletin monitored in Colombo that Sri Lankan air force jets had destroyed a rebel communication center in Pooneryn, which lies across a lagoon south of the Jaffna peninsula.

The leader of the main opposition party branded the intensifying war as the island nation's ``greatest crisis'' since independence in 1948 and urged the government to protect the 500,000 civilians on the battle-scarred peninsula. More..


Jaffna: the pride, prestige and prejudice
Indian Express, May 12. There is no great economic or geographic significance in Jaffna, but psychologically it is the centre of Eelam, Tamil intellectuals here say, adding that the loss of Jaffna in 1995 was a serious blow to the rebels. The guerrillas have now vowed to make amends and retake the region.

Energy Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte vowed in parliament Tuesday that soldiers would defend Jaffna to the last man and would also mount a fresh offensive to retake the Elephant Pass base located at the entrance to the peninsula. "We will fight to the last man and defend Jaffna," said Ratwatte who is also the junior defence minister. More..


Battle for Jaffna intensifies in Sri Lanka
Friday, May 12 (Colombo):. The Sri Lankan government spokesman and chief censor, Mr. Ariya Rubasinghe, said in a statement, "Terrorists in strength attacked the newly constructed defences in Ariyalai and directed a heavy volume of mortar fire on the troops. Due to this attack, troops had to readjust their defences temporarily."

Mr. Rubasinghe also said that the army had launched a counter-attack causing heavy casualties among the rebels. The government has cut off telephone services in Jaffna to prevent supporters of the LTTE from giving them information. More..


Tipnis concludes visit to Sri Lanka
The Hindu, 18.00 hrs (IST) on May 12, 2000. Briefing Colombo-based Indian reporters last night about his visit to Sri Lanka, Tipnis reiterated that his visit to Sri Lanka was a routine one and denied speculation that his stay had anything to do with the fighting between the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE. More..


Govt. denies report of LTTE advance
18.00 hrs (IST) on May 12, 2000. Reports of rebel advance towards the Jaffna City Centre has been denied by the Government, which has been forced to readjust its defences temporarily in Ariyalai sector after heavy fighting. More..


Tamil Rebels Close on Jaffna
Friday May 12 4:53 AM ET. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels warned civilians today to flee the northern city of Jaffna, where their fighters advanced to the edge of their former capital and the government retreated from its latest defensive lines. More..


Jaffna's fall to Tamil rebels will destabilize South Asia
CBS-UPI, May 11, 2000 20:02. The formidable Tamil Tigers guerrillas looked set Thursday to inflict a catastrophic military defeat on the Sri Lankan government by capturing the key stronghold of Jaffna peninsula. If they succeed, the entire island nation will be dangerously destabilized and the political shock waves look certain to be felt throughout South Asia. More..


Sri Lanka troops "re-adjusted" defence lines in Ariyali
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 1440 Sri Lanka Time 12.05.00. Sri Lanka troops have "re-adjusted" their defence lines in Ariyali after fierce five hour gun battle. A media communique issued by the Special Media Information Unit said that the rebels attacked the newly constructed defences in Ariyali around 1.30 pm yesterday. " Terrorists directed a heavy volume of mortar fire on the troops. Due to this attack troops had to re-adjust their defences temporarily towards Colombuthurai East" the communique said. It said that subsequently troops launched a counter attack causing many casualties among the rebels. The rebels have also launched a simultaneous attack on Tanakillapu sector. " troops supported by MI-24 helicopter gunships and artillery fought back causing casualties among terrorists" the communique said. Two officers and seven soldiers have been killed and 86 injured in the fighting. The communique said rebels have suffered heavy casualties but gave no details

Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka say advance units are near Jaffna
Australian Broadcasting Corp, May 12. Tamil Tiger forces are only a few kilometres from Jaffna town, the government says it's not under siege and has halted what the rebels called, a lightning offensive. Adding to the exchange of claim and counter-claim, the defence ministry's released a video showing life on Jaffna's streets continuing as normal. Other reports say tensions are rising in the town. More..


Sri Lanka: The Hidden War
ChanelOne.com, May 11, 2000. In the beautiful tropical island nation of Sri Lanka, off the southern tip of India, thousands of people are dying in a vicious civil war -- many of them teens. At first glance, Sri Lanka looks like an island paradise. But a long-running ethnic war -- like the ones that have torn apart Chechnya, Bosnia and Kosovo -- is taking place in the northern and eastern parts of the country. And the foot soldiers in this war are young boys and girls, ready and willing to die at any moment.
[More...]
[Watch]


Fighting nears Jaffna
BBC, Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK. With the battle for Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka intensifying, the International Committee of the Red Cross has called on both sides to protect civilians.

Civilians have been moving into Jaffna town from outlying areas to escape the fighting and movement in the city is restricted, including access to the local hospital. More..


A peace that neither side in Lanka wants
The Times of India, May 12. The Tigers realise that before serious negotiations begin they need to prove their military superiority. ``The LTTE knows they can get concessions from Colombo only when they talk from a position of strength,'' a source close to the Tigers said. For President Kumaratunga it is equally important to do the same.``A country cannot make peace on bended knees,'' a senior Lankan official said, echoing the general consensus in government circles. More..


LTTE positions pummelled
The Hindustan Times, Colombo, May 11. SRI LANKAN troops bombarded suspected Tamil rebel positions today as fighting near the town of Jaffna killed at least 131 people on both sides, the government said. More..


Israeli jets for Sri Lanka
The Hindu, Friday, May 12, 2000. While the LTTE continues its ``all-out'' offensive on Jaffna, Sri Lanka has acquired new fighter jets from Israel and is awaiting a shipload of arms from Pakistan, highly placed Government sources here said. Sources pointed out that seven Israeli Kfir fighter jets had already arrived in Sri Lanka. Besides, Israel has also landed 24 containers of arms and equipment in Colombo. More..


Solheim meets Indian Minister
The Hindu, 20.00 hrs (IST) on May 11, 2000. While reiterating offer to mediate between the Sri Lankan Government and LTTE if approached, India today said there is general appreciation that any solution to the ethnic crisis would require New Delhi's support. More..

Lankan Tamils get ready to flee war zone
Times of India, 12 May 2000. Rameshwaram and other coastal towns bordering Tamil Nadu may soon become home to many of the 500,000 Tamilians settled in Jaffna.

Sources said the constant booming of artillery and mortar within a five km range around Chundukulai, Pasaiyur and Ariyali had sent panic signals among the local people, who were now getting ready to sail to India. More..


Sri Lanka seeks foreign mediation to bring Tigers to the table
AFP-Yahoo, Thursday, May 11 8:28 PM SGT. Sri Lanka Thursday said it was ready to accept foreign help to end the Tamil separatist war as parliament was told the country's sovereignty was threatened by the ongoing heavy fighting.

Acting Foreign Minister Lakshman Kiriella said the government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga was prepared to consider help, including from neighbouring India, but there was no formal offer.

"If any country is willing to mediate to bring the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) to the negotiating table, we welcome it," Kiriella told parliament.

UNP legislator Karunasena Kodituwakku said the country had reached a decisive stage with Tamil Tiger guerrillas increasing pressure on government troops in the northern peninsula of Jaffna.

"We are at a critical stage when the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity is challenged," Kodituwakku said adding in parliament that the government must seek a peaceful end to the conflict without further bloodshed. More..


Tamil rebels give ultimatum to soldiers
HongKong Standard, May 11. TAMIL Tiger rebels making fierce assaults on Sri Lankan forces as they close in on the northern city of Jaffna warned the soldiers yesterday to surrender or withdraw.

``Sri Lankan soldiers, you are occupying our land,'' the Voice of Tigers radio said in a broadcast in Sinhala, the language of Sri Lanka's majority ethnic group and most of the country's soldiers. More..


Sri Lankan Rebels Storm Into Jaffna Town
Thursday May 11 3:12 PM ET. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels closed in on the heart of their former stronghold of Jaffna town on Thursday after a lightning strike against government troops, the rebels said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said in a statement from their office in London that they were only half a mile from the administrative center of the city, hub of the battle-scarred Jaffna peninsula. More..


Indian role in Lanka vital--Norway
Times of India, May 11. Eric Solheim, on Thursday held discussions with external affairs minister Jaswant Singh on the situation in the island and later said no solution to the ethnic conflict was possible without India's "positive role".

"In no way can the problem be solved without India playing a positive role," he told reporters after the meeting but parried queries on what specific role New Delhi should play to end the crisis in Jaffna.

Solheim, who has been trying to facilitate a dialogue between Sri Lankan government and LTTE, was here on a day's visit to discuss with India the situation arising out of the ethnic conflict. He also held a meeting with foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh. More..


BBC Sinhala & Tamil service suspended
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.15 p.m. SLT Thursday May 11. The Government today suspended its contract with the BBC's Sinhala Sandeshaya Service and its Tamil News Service which is broadcast over the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. The Government also detailed that under Section 14 of the present Emergency Regulations all night radio and TV broadcasts are to be suspended with immediate effect.

The government Information Department further stated today that all computer, audio and visual reports being sent abroad are to be first presented to the Government Competent Authority for censorship before such reports are sent out of the country. The State further ordered that all TV programs including chat shows which fall under regulations of the present emergency are to be sent to the Competent Authority before being telecast.


India rules out policy change if Jaffna falls
Times of India, May 11. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday ruled out any change in India's policy in the event of fall of Jaffna to LTTE, which has launched an all out offensive against Sri Lankan troops to wrest control of the northern Sri Lankan peninsula.

"If Jaffna falls to LTTE it will not be the first time (such a development would take place)," Vajpayee said in an informal chat with newspersons here. More..


Tigers say they are about to take Jaffna
The Times of India, Thursday 11 May 2000. Tamil Tiger rebels Thursday said they were ready for a final assault on Jaffna after seizing a vital bridge five km (three miles) outside the city, but the government said its soldiers fought back repeated rebel attempts to capture the bridge.

The rebels said they were now "posing a serious threat to government troops occupying Jaffna Peninsula."

However, government spokesman Ariya Rubasinghe said in a statement received in New Delhi, "Troops in strength continue to hold the bridge at Navatkuli. Troops have repulsed many attempts of the terrorists to get closer to the bridge." More..


Many takers for Indian peace bid
Asia Times, May 11, 2000. A section of political observers agreed that New Delhi's offer, made Monday, had opened a ''window'' of opportunity for ending the bloody conflict in northern Sri Lanka that has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1983. ''There is a window of hope. The situation is not bad after all,'' noted one of them, adding that the offer was likely to get broad support. ''This is a very good offer and we support it,'' said member of parliament Joseph Pararajasingham of the moderate Tamil United Liberation Front. More..


Sri Lanka volunteers outgunned in rebel onslaught
Electronic Telegraph, May 11. When senior officers and politicians visit the wounded soldiers, they sing in chorus "we will take back Elephant Pass". When alone, some have a different story to tell. They speak of ammunition shortages, lack of air support and most of the army's heavy armour being rendered useless by a shortage of batteries and parts. More..


Norwegian Envoy Talks Sri Lanka Peace in India
AFP-Yahoo, Thursday May 11 4:50 AM ET. A Norwegian envoy, hoping to help broker a peace deal for war-torn Sri Lanka, arrived in New Delhi on Thursday and said his country would assist in finding a solution to the conflict.

Domestic news agencies quoted Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as reiterating that India could intervene only if both the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) pressed for it.

Vajpayee ruled out any change in the Indian government's policy if Jaffna town fell to the LTTE. More..


Sri Lanka fighting near Jaffna kills 104
AFP-Yahoo, Thursday, May 11 3:59 PM SGT. Israeli-built Kfir jets were bombing bunkers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam at Ariyalai, Thanankilappu and Pooneryn from dawn Thursday, the government said in a statement.

"The pilots confirm that the terrorists bunker line at Ariyalai was completely destroyed," the statement said. Ariyalai is located just five kilometres away from the strategically important Jaffna town. More..


12 billion needed to bridge government's war effort
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 5.40 p.m. SLT Thursday May 11. Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister for Justice & Constitutional Affairs today told parliament that an additional Rs. 12 billion is required to bridge the government's defence deficit. Rs. 6 billion will be taken from monies allocated for various development projects which are not "top priority" while 2.5 billion will be gathered from the government having increased taxes on cigarettes and liquor. This week the price of a cigarette went up by .50 cents each and a bottle of liquor by Rs. 10/=. The government will further raise its defence levy by 1 percent. Prof. Peiris said that the Goods & Services Tax (GST) on all food and other essential items will not be raised. Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku, MP for the United National Party addressing the Minister in parliament said that while he agrees certain measures have to be adopted in order to meet the present military expenditure "the people should not be taxed as a result," he said.


India receives hijack threat as crisis in Sri Lanka escalates
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 4.30 p.m. SLT Thursday May 11. The Aviation Commodore at India's southern based airport in Trichy today received a letter from an organization calling itself the Tamil Nadu Liberation Front threatening to hijack a plane travelling from Trichy to Colombo. The letter stated that the hijack would be carried out if India continued with lending Sri Lanka assistance to resolve its bloody war. Security has been beefed up as a result at Trichy airport and all passengers are being heavily scrutinized.


Foreign arms aid for Lankan Troops
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 12 p.m. SLT Thursday May 11. Indian news reports today claim that Lankan troops fighting Tiger rebels in the Islands northern peninsula are now being boosted by a fresh supply of arms sent from Pakistan, Israel, and South Africa. In view of the fresh arms supply, reports suggest, that it will not be possible for the rebels to gain ground. Soldiers suffered heavy setbacks recently after facing fierce onslaughts by the LTTE and lost a large number of armaments to Tiger rebels who overran key base camps of the Sri Lanka Army.

In addition to the renewed supply of arms, It is believed that troop morale will be strengthened by the fact that Indian naval vessels are reported to be keeping a discreet surveillance on Sri Lanka's northern coastline.


LTTE press release claims to advance towards Jaffna
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.45 a.m. SLT Thursday May 11. An LTTE press release issued late last night claimed that the Tigers in a meticulously planned offensive operation captured vital strategic locations in the proximity of the Jaffna town Wednesday.

The LTTE statement says, "In a multi-pronged offensive thrust the Tamil Tiger commando units stormed into the Sri Lankan army’s defence positions in the early hours of the morning at Navatkuli, Ariyalai and Thanankillapu villages in the outskirts of the Jaffna town inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy forces. A two-kilometre stretch of A9 highway (Kandy Road) inclusive of the strategically important Navatkuli bridge has come under the control of the LTTE fighters. At Thanankillappu, the LTTE fighting units have advanced 2 kilometres interior and have launched a massive assault on the main Sri Lankan military base at Kovilkandy junction. At Ariyalai the advancing Tiger troops have occupied Maniyanthoddan after chasing away a detachment of government troops stationed there."

The government denies that the Tigers captured the Navatkuli bridge.

The Tigers further claim to have called upon the Tamil civilians residing close to battle areas to move to safer areas and that the people are responding.

The army meanwhile has moved in reinforcements and heavy fighting continues to rage in this area.

An Information Department press release also issued late last night said that "Around 3 a.m. on May 10, 2000 terrorists in large numbers launched a major attack on the troops manning defences at Ariyalai and Thanankillapu salients in Jaffna."

"Terrorists continue to fire a heavy volume of artillery and mortars. Troops fought back effectively repulsing a number of human waves of the attackers. Although there were a large number of casualties among the attackers, LTTE human waves continued to assault without any respect for the lives of junior LTTE cadres."

The Government statement maintains that ground troops are supported effectively by the Sri Lanka Air force. The official release admits that casualties are heavy on both sides as a result of the fighting.



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