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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2674

Battle rages in the north with both sides facing heavy losses

Colombo, 12 October, ( The latest intensified attacks are concentrated on the road to Elephant Pass. Both sides are attacking each other from the Northern Forward Defence Lines (FDLs). Fighting is heaviest at Muhamalai, Killaly, Nakarkovil and Palai - all leading to Elephant Pass.

Both sides are blaming each other for starting the firing and both sides claim that they are engage din "defensive action". Both sides are now taking heavy casualties. The LTTE is now putting up a resistance to block the advance of the SLA. But the combined forces of the Air force, navy and the SLA are attacking the LTTE gun positions on the road to Elephant Pass.

Military sources said that 22 soldiers were killed in action and 113 were wounded during the defensive operations.

"Ground troops state that, there are a large number of LTTE terrorists lying dead ahead of the present Defence Lines," said the media unit of the Ministry of Defence.

It added: "The retaliatory actions by the troops are still continuing. The government has already made its position clear to the LTTE that the government will not be remained trapped to the ceasefire allowing the LTTE to carry out attacks at the security forces at freehand."

The LTTE, on the other hand, claimed that they had killed 72 soldiers, wounded hundreds and captured on solider. But they did not post the number of casualties like the Ministry of Defence.

All this seems to be the prelude to the talks scheduled to begin on October 28-29 in Geneva. The LTTE is now engaged in a military operation to contain the advancing SLA. After the string of losses - from Sampur to Muttur - LTTE is worrying about going to talks without having the power to speak through the barrel of a gun.

They have to put up a fight to impress that they still have the bargaining clout.

Some diplomats argue that the LTTE came to talks only to buy time and to keep their strategic territory intact without any further losses. Pro-LTTE fund raisers in London are facing a backlash from the Tamil diaspora which is raising awkward question about the money donated by them earlier to win Eelam. They are asking why the LTTE failed to retain Sampur, Muttur, etc, with all the money donated by them.

The escalating violence is also raising doubts about the peace talks
scheduled to take place on October 28 -29 in Geneva. Analysts argue that the LTTE has no option but to intensify attacks before going to the negotiating table.

One analyst said that the victories in Geneva for either side depend on the victories they can score before sitting down at the table. "LTTE cannot face further losses if they are to make an impact at the Geneva talks. They are desperate to score some victory to show that they are alive and kicking," he said.

It is unlikely that the LTTE can recapture either Sampur or Muttur. At best they can temporarily halt the advancing arm, according to military analysts.

The LTTE is now relying more on the international community to stop the forces advancing into their territory. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs have mounted a propaganda campaign to stop the forces. But the government insists on pursuing "defensive action" to protect the national interests.

- Asian Tribune -

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