Sri Lanka troops seize strategic pass from Tigers: official

January 9, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops fighting Tamil rebels on Friday took full control of the highly strategic Elephant Pass, a causeway linking the Jaffna peninsula with the northern mainland, an official said. The causeway fell to government troops advancing northwards from Kilinochchi, the political headquarters of the Tamil Tigers captured by the army a week ago, a government spokesman said.

“They have established full control over Elephant Pass today after entering the south of the area four days ago,” he said.

There was no comment from the Tamil Tigers, who had held the Elephant Pass since April 2000.

The capture of the pass came as at least four civilians and three security personnel were killed in northeastern Sri Lanka when their vehicle was hit by a roadside mine.

The blast went off as the commuter bus was being escorted by security personnel in the district of Trincomalee, a military official said, adding that six people were also wounded.

The authorities were probing the involvement of Tamil Tiger rebels in the attack that came as troops in the north of the island stepped up pressure against the guerrillas and their last remaining strongholds.