Sri Lanka braces for push on Tiger capital

August 24, 2008 (AFP) – Strife-torn Sri Lanka is bracing for intense and bloody battles as security forces close in on the political capital of the Tamil Tiger rebels, according to military analysts. Sri Lanka braces for push on Tiger capital

Government forces are celebrating the capture of the towns of Uyilankulam and Thunukkai after battling the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for months.

And the defence ministry says the ultimate prize of the city of Kilinochchi is now within reach, just 12 kilometres (seven miles) from current security forces’ positions.

Kilinochchi, 330 kilometres (206 miles) north of Colombo, is the main headquarters of the LTTE’s political wing and has been used a base to receive visiting foreign dignitaries in the past.

Defence analysts say the going will get tougher for government forces as they get closer to their prized objective as they will no longer be able to use heavy artillery, multi-barrel rockets and air attacks.

“As the army moves closer, they will have to rely more on infantry,” said retired brigadier general Vipul Boteju. “We are getting to the stage of close-quarter fighting and that is when we can expect more casualties.”