Army takes Kilaly and Muhamalai as Tigers withdraw to Puthukkaadu junction
The Sri Lankan armed forces scored two more significant successes when troops belonging to 53 division captured the Kilaly and Muhamaalai areas by Tuesday January 6th evening.
After offering token resistance the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) withdrew from entrenched positions in both these areas to the south and south – eastern region of the peninsula.
The LTTE has now retreated to a third defence line set up along the Puthukkaddu junction along the A – 9.
Soldiers however were attempting to move further forward to the 3rd line with intensive artillery support.
Fighting however continues sporadically between the LTTE and 55 division soldiers in the Nagar Kovil region.
All transport along the A – 9 were stopped for several hours in the Thenmaratchy sector.
LTTE positions in the Jaffna peninsula were set up along an axis comprising Kilaly in the west, Muhamaalai in the center and Nagar Kovil in the east.
Currently all areas to the west and north of the A – 9 highway are in army hands. Soldiers are expanding their control to the south and east of the Jaffna – Kandy road.
The LTTE is at present in control of the coastal strip in the peninsula from Nagar Kudaarappu in the north to Chundikkulam lagoon in the south.
The LTTE has also withdrawn further to the south of the peninsula to areas south of Puthukkaadu junction which include Iyakkachchi and northern elephant pass.
While the LTTE is expected to resist militarily for a while in these areas military analysts rule out the possibility of the tigers retaining these areas for long.
Already LTTE cadres are withdrawing from the peninsula to the northern mainland.
The LTTE is crossing the lagoon by boats and rafts in from Kommaatty in the peninsula to Ooriyaan in the mainland.
Transport along the A – 9 highway from peninsula to mainland is impossible because the 58 division soldiers are occupting southern elephant pass thus blocking access through the causeway.
The LTTE in the peninsula is thus sandwiched in between the 53 and 55 divisions in the north and 58 division in the south.
While tigers continue to resist after withdrawing from some areas it is doubtful whether they can hold out for a long period say analysts.
Nevertheless the prospect of tigers launching a counter - attack or attempting to hold on to a coastal strip of land in the peninsula despite the danger of being outmanoeuvred in a double envelopement movement is not ruled out by some observers.