Sri Lanka troops take strategic pass from Tigers: army

January 5, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops battling Tamil rebels Monday captured part of the highly strategic Elephant Pass in a second major success just days after taking the guerrillas’ political headquarters, the army said. Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said the southern part of Elephant Pass, a causeway linking the northern Jaffna peninsula to the mainland, fell to troops advancing north from Kilinochchi which was seized on Friday.

“Troops are now consolidating in the southern part of Elephant Pass,” he said.

Tamil Tiger rebels had held the Elephant Pass since April 2000. There was no immediate comment from the ethnic rebels, who have seen their northern fiefdom crumble in recent months in the face of a massive government onslaught.

The Sri Lankan army’s advance to the causeway, if confirmed, would deal another serious blow to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The fall of Elephant Pass would enable government troops from the south to link up with government forces in Jaffna who have been cut off from the rest of the island by LTTE positions.

The advance also further isolates Tamil Tiger rebels in a section of northeastern coastal jungle around Mullaittivu, the last remaini