The Terror Journal

A Journal on Terrorism and Genocide

Sri Lanka captures medical base

Sri LankaSri Lankan troops have captured the last remaining medical facility held by Tamil Tiger rebels in the north, the army’s military spokesman has said.

Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said that the Tiger’s makeshift hospital near Puthukkudiyiruppu was captured during heavy fighting on Wednesday.

The army says it has now confined the rebels to a 37 sq km (15 sq mile) area in the north-east.

There has been no word from the Tigers over the loss of the medical facility.

But the pro-rebel TamilNet website has accused the army of killing 133 civilians – including 49 children – during shelling inside a government declared “safe zone” on Tuesday.

“The Sri Lankan army deployed internationally banned cluster munitions and fire-bombs against civilians who were stranded without shelter inside the ‘safe zone’ which has now become a killing field,” TamilNet reported.

There is no way of confirming either side’s claims. Independent journalists are not allowed in the war zone.

‘Complete control’

The army says that nearly all of the Tamil Tigers’ top guerrillas, including leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran, are now fighting a desperate rearguard action in the diminishing area of land which they control. It says that some of these leaders are now personally commanding the battles.

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“We took complete control [of the medical facility] this morning,” Brig Nanayakkara told The Associated Press. “The hospital building was intact, but we are not sure about any of the equipment.”

He said that while there was heavy fighting during the operation, there was no word yet on casualties on either side.

The taking of the facility comes a day after the military said a senior rebel leader, Sabarathnam Selvathurai, was killed in fighting in Puthukkudiyiruppu, believed to be the last major town held by the rebels. The army says he was killed by mortar fire.

Correspondents say that Mr Selvathurai is one of the oldest confidantes of Mr Prabhakaran, and was in charge of the rebels’ vast international financing network. His death, if confirmed, is likely to lower their morale.

The army says that some troops are inside Puthukkudiyiruppu and have just a few kilometres to go before they reach a lagoon on its eastern edge.

Meanwhile concern is mounting over the plight of thousands of civilians inside and outside the war zone who are reported to be affected by heavy flooding and a shortage of food and medicine.

The government withdrew from a Norwegian-brokered truce at the beginning of 2008 after accusing the Tigers of using the ceasefire to re-arm. It says the same thing will happen again if it responds to international calls to stop the latest fighting.

On Tuesday a suicide bombing in the south of the country killed at least 14 people. The attack was blamed on the rebels.

The Tamil Tigers have fought for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority since 1983.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the war.

Source: BBC News

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