Fierce fights continue as more refugees escape

By Damith Wickramaratne

At least 18 LTTE fighters were killed in fierce close-quarter firefights in and around the Puthukkudiyiruppu town as more and more civilians continued to seek refuge behind Government lines, the military said yesterday.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nayakkara said that soldiers from the 58 Division were facing stiff resistance from the LTTE who were engaging the advancing troops in fierce fire-fights in a bid to halt the military push.

Following the latest round of fighting the military were also able to recover at least 16 automatic assault rifles along with ammunition and other war material such as explosives etc., he said.

Meanwhile at least one person was killed and four others injured as the LTTE opened fire on a group of IDPs attempting to flee into the Government-controlled areas, the military said.

The latest incident occurred late on Friday as a group of 58 persons, including 20 children were making a desperate dash towards the military lines on the outskirts of the main Puthukkudiyiruppu town, the Military spokesperson said.

Dozens of IDPs including a large number of children are known to have been killed by the LTTE while attempting to seek refuge in the Government-controlled areas over the past few weeks.

“At first the LTTE cadres were firing at the escapees below the waist but now it appears they are shooting to kill,” Brigadier Nanayakkara said.

In a related development another batch of 400 plus IDPs including the sick and old were evacuated from the LTTE-controlled beach head on the Mullaitivu coast and brought to Trincomalee on an ICRC-flagged mercy ship.

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