Sri Lanka gains ground from Tamil Tigers: military

January 13, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops have captured more territory from Tamil Tigers in fierce battles around the rebels’ last stronghold in the northeast of the island, the defence ministry said Tuesday. The Tigers said a shell had also hit a hospital building and two people there sustained minor injuries.

Claims by both sides cannot be verified as the independent media are barred from travelling to the frontlines.

The LTTE did not comment on Monday’s fighting, but the rebels have admitted losing ground in recent weeks — including the town of Kilinochchi which they used as their political base for nearly a decade.

Sri Lanka has poured in a record 1.7 billion dollars into this year’s war effort as troops push to eject the Tigers from their last stronghold in the jungle and lagoon district around Mullaittivu. Heavy fighting was reported around guerrilla-controlled Mullaittivu district on Monday, with troops seizing a rebel administration base, a training camp and a bunker line, the ministry said.

“After bitter clashes… troops captured a LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) administration base inflicting heavy damages on the terrorists,” the ministry said in a statement.