Sri Lanka troops take two more towns from Tigers: defence ministry

November 17, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops on Monday captured two more strategic towns from Tamil Tiger rebels following fierce fighting in the north of the island, the defence ministry said. Security forces battling to dismantle the rebels’ mini-state entered the town of Mankulam, located just south of the Tamil Tiger political capital of Kilinochchi, government defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Government troops also seized Kumalamunai, a town just south of the key Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) base of Mullaittivu, situated on the northeast coast.

“The Task Force Three of the army went into Mankulam junction this morning and they are now consolidating in the town,” Rambukwella told AFP. “This morning we also captured Kumalamunai in Mullaittivu district.”

The Sri Lankan military said on Saturday it had taken another key town, Pooneryn, on the northern edge of the mainland.

“Mankulam is a psychologically very important place for us to re-establish, because nine years ago the army lost it. The same with Pooneryn,” said Rambukwella, who is also a cabinet minister.

The minister did not give casualty figures, but added that a multi-pronged off