Saturday, May 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

LTTE signal centre smashed
Rebels kill nine soldiers

COLOMBO, May 12 (UNI, PTI) — Sri Lankan troops today destroyed the Pooneryn Signal Centre, used by the LTTE for communication within their cadres from across the Jaffna lagoon, amid claims by the rebels that they were getting closer to Jaffna city centre.

The government radio said this evening that the rebels were in distress with the breakdown of their major communication centre. Pooneryn is located south-west of Jaffna across the lagoon.

Earlier, nine Sri Lankan army personnel were killed and 86 others injured as troops continued to battle two-pronged attacks by the LTTE in the vicinity of Jaffna town, even as the Sri Lankan Air Force stepped up bombing of the rebel positions elsewhere in the peninsula.

LTTE rebels attacked “newly” constructed defences of the army early today at Ariyalai, located about 5 km south of Jaffna town, which has been under heavy attack during the past two days, a government press note said here.

It said with well-armed LTTE guerrillas subjecting the troops with heavy volume of mortar fire, the security forces had to readjust their defences temporarily at Colombothurai East, situated south of Jaffna town, troops subsequently launched heavy counter-attacks causing many casualties among the rebels.

Rebels launched simultaneous attacks yesterday in Thanankilappu sector which is about 7 km south of Ariyalai. “Troops supported by aircraft, MI 24 helicopter gunships and artillery, fought back, causing casualties among terrorists”, the press note said.

Two officers and seven soldiers were killed in the rebel attacks and 86 security personnel were wounded in the overnight fighting.

The army yesterday said 35 troops and 96 rebels had been killed in the battle, ever since the rebels attacked army positions closer to Jaffna town two days ago.

The injured persons have been evacuated to base hospitals at Palaly and Colombo, it said.

In another development, the police shot dead an LTTE rebel, who attempted to lob a hand grenade at them at Eravur in eastern Batticaloa district. The militant died later in a hospital, the release added.

Meanwhile, the Chief of Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis, left for New Delhi on Friday after a five-day official visit to Sri Lanka during which he met the Sri Lankan President, Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga and top officials of the island’s defence establishment.

He was seen off this morning at the Bandaranaike International Airport by his Sri Lankan counterpart, Air Marshal Jayalath Weerakody and other senior officials from the air force and the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo.

Briefing Colombo-based Indian reporters last night about his visit to Sri Lanka, Air Marshal Tipnis reiterated that his visit to the country 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.

JERUSALEM (DPA): Israel and Sri Lanka have signed a deal whereby the Jewish state will supply the civil war-torn country with KFIR fighter jets, the Israeli Ha’aretz daily reported on Friday. The deal comes as Colombo embarks on an emergency re-supply operation in the wake of significant advances made by Tamil Tiger rebels. The aircraft will come from Israel Air Force surplus stock, the Israeli paper said.

According to an AFP report from Colombo the international media rights organisation, Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) condemned on Friday Sri Lanka’s tightening of censorship on radio and television news broadcasts.

The Paris-based RSF said it wrote Sri Lanka’s Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera asking him to reconsider the censorship imposed on May 3 and further tightening on Thursday.

RSF said international television broadcasts of BBC and CNN were also being censored by authorities in Sri Lanka and described it as a violation of fundamental rights of people in the country.

The Sri Lankan Government also stopped the simultaneous rebroadcast of Tamil and Sinhala language news programmes of the BBC over the state-run Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Sri Lanka strongly urged the government to lift the censorship and said the restrictions affected the credibility of news coverage out of the country.



Govt denies LTTE claims on Jaffna

COLOMBO, May 12 (PTI) — The Sri Lankan Government tonight denied LTTE claims that the guerrillas had taken over the Jaffna’s Agent’s administrative office and said troops took full control of the area today after killing 12 rebels who tried to infiltrate into the office.

A late night press note by the government said agents of the LTTE had been spreading rumours that Jaffna Kuchecheri, the administative office of the government agent had been taken over by the LTTE. 

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