July 10, 2007 (AFP) – Tamil Tiger rebels in the east of Sri Lanka are showing stiff resistance and have slowed a military advance on a strategic jungle base, defence authorities here said Tuesday. The government denies carrying out attacks inside rebel-held territory.
Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters the Tiger rebels were still holed up in a small area known as Thoppigala, adding that they had buried mines and were slowing the military campaign.
“We have captured about 98 percent of the territory, but the balance two percent won’t be in a matter of days,” Rambukwella said, dismissing media reports that troops were about to take Thoppigala.
“It may even take two years,” he said.
He said the objective of the security forces was not limited to capturing Thoppigala, but was to take full control over the multi-ethnic eastern province by neutralising the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said the army had taken up position about “five to six kilometres” away from Thoppigala. He too rejected media reports that the military had captured the area.
“We are at Narakamulla and this is about five to six kilomet