Sri Lanka troops face heavy rebel resistance, rain
Thu October 23, 2008 08:29 EDT .
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Sri Lankan troops are facing stiff resistance from Tamil Tiger rebels and heavy monsoon rains in their offensive to seize the rebels' de facto capital in the north, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.
Heavy clashes broke out Wednesday in Akkarayankulam village, west of the rebel headquarters of Kilinochchi, in which soldiers managed to capture several rebel trenches and bunkers despite the pounding rains, the ministry said in a statement. It did not give casualty details.
In Vavuniya district to the south, soldiers on foot patrol countered rebel gunfire Wednesday, killing one guerrilla, the ministry said.
On Thursday, soldiers captured a the small village of Gajabapura in Mullaitivu district, the military said in a statement.
Rebel officials could not be reached for comment because most communications to rebel-held territory have been severed.
The ground fighting came as Tamil Tiger rebels carried out a suicide attack on two cargo ships carrying food and other essential goods for villagers displaced by the conflict, the government said.
But the rebel-affiliated Puthinam Web site quoted unidentified rebel officials as saying the ships were transporting military equipment under the guise of ferrying relief goods.
Navy spokesman D.K.P. Dassanayake said sailors fired at the rebel boats Wednesday as they approached the cargo ships off the shores of Myliddi in the northern Jaffna peninsula.
The navy destroyed two of the three boats and captured one, Dassanayake said.
He said the navy suffered no casualties but that one navy ship was damaged when one of the rebel boats exploded.
Tamil Tiger rebels have been fighting for more than 25 years to create an independent state for Sri Lanka's ethnic minority Tamils, who have suffered marginalization at the hands of successive governments controlled by ethnic Sinhalese.Discuss this story
Published: Thu Oct 23 16:10:36 EDT 2008