At 11.14 and 41 seconds on January 2 Army
Headquarters flashed a news item which read:
"Flash - The strategic KILINOCHCHI is about
to fall at any moment from now onwards,
declares the Army Headquarters in
A little less than four hours after that the
Defence Ministry said that troops were in
control of the entire stretch of the A9 from
Omanthai to Paranthan, meaning they were in
control of the A9 - at least four to five
kilometres - which runs through Killinochchi
"Sri Lanka Army 57 Division troops
approaching Killinochchi town from the south
have linked up with troops of Task Force 1
advancing from the north this afternoon
(January 2). According to the battlefield
reports, now the army has established
control over the
(Jaffna-Kandy) from Omanthai to Paranthan,"
said a subsequent report.
With the capture of Paranthan by troops from
Task Force 1 (TF1), the troops had kept
moving south on the
and had captured Karadipokku junction
north of Killinochchi by the evening of
Thereafter they had intensified their
assault on Killinochchi supported by other
divisions from the southern, western and
"Troops attached to 10 Gajaba Regiment (GR)
and 11 Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI)
battalion are advancing towards Killinochchi
from the east of A9 Road whilst troops
attached to 12 Gajaba Regiment and 6 Gemunu
Watch (GW) battalion are advancing towards
Killinochchi Town from the west of A9 Road.
"Simultaneously, troops of 57 Division
operating from west and south of
Killinochchi areas have also continued their
advance towards LTTE heartland Killinochchi
after gaining total control over the once
LTTE stronghold located south of
Killinochchi, the Adampan Town.
"The 572 and 571 Brigades are advancing
towards the centre of Killinochchi from the
west and south west direction and are
operating closer to the A-9 Road. Meanwhile
troops of 574 Brigade who have gained
control over the Iranamadu junction are now
operating beyond the junction," the Ministry
said on January 2 morning.
Soon after the news flash by the army, audio
reports were carried live on state TV. A
little over an hour after 11.15, the Defence
Ministry said that troops moving from the
south had taken control of Killinochchi
"Sri Lanka Army 57 Division troops now in
the process of liberating Killinochchi Town
have taken control over the Killinochchi
Railway Station short while ago (January 2).
According to the battlefield reports troops
of 571 Brigade led by Lieutenant Colonel
Harendra Ranasinghe have beaten off the
terrorists from the area in an intense
Soon after troops had reached the railway
station there was a counter attack by the
Tigers that had been repulsed.
For three days since December 30 heavy
fighting had been raging in areas north of
the former Tiger political headquarters.
During the previous five days before troops
entered Killinochchi heavy fighting had
been reported from the area north east of
Killinochchi and Paranthan, further north on
The fighting had commenced on the evening of
December 30. Several attempts made earlier
in the last month to move south on the
Paranthan-Pooneryn road by troops from TF1
were met with stiff resistance with hundreds
of casualties on both sides.
But the Defence Ministry said that troops
had broken out of areas south of Nivil
backed by heavy artillery and mortar fire as
2008 was drawing to an end.
"The battle for Paranthan began in the early
hours on Tuesday (30) when the TF-1 armour,
artillery and infantry battalions commenced
launching a concerted assault on the
garrison town while army forward domination
elements took on the well fortified LTTE
resistance positions during surprise
manoeuvres made behind enemy lines."
Several trench lines
The Tigers had reportedly built several
trench lines on the Paranthan-Pooneryn Road
and on the A9. But on December 31 troops
had reached the Paranthan junction that
connects Pooneryn, Killinochchi and
Mullaithivu as well as some other minor
roads. Troops had moved in with a two
pronged assault from the northwest.
"Troops have also cut off the vital access
routes towards Paranthan along the A-9 Road
from the north and south, reportedly killing
over 50 terrorists, while injuring twice as
many numbers during the intense battles,
military sources said.
"The Paranthan LTTE garrison is
strategically located, approximately 4.5 k.m
north of Killinochchi along the A-9 trunk
route and on the southern sector of Elephant
Pass, another LTTE foothold, according to
"Troops of the TF-1, commanded by Brigadier
Shavendra Silva, entered the Paranthan
built-up assisted with close combat air
support of SLAF jets and MI-24 helicopter
gunships, Wednesday morning (December 31)."
Resistance and counter attacks
"LTTE resistance and counter-attacks were
outflanked by the intense military armour
attacks and concentrated artillery and
mortar fire, the ground troops said. The
fighting was fierce and prolonged for hours
until the terrorists were completely beaten
by the determined soldiers, the sources
"LTTE fighting formations mainly from the
Imran Pandiyan unit led by its 'Killinochchi-in-charge,'
Velavan and Jerom had made successive
attempts to gain lost ground only to be left
with more casualties and damages."
Calls for a Christmas truce have come and
gone and fighting had continued without a
break. There was fighting on Christmas Eve
as well as on Christmas Day. Those clashes
however were reported in the Mullaithivu
Soon after the Christmas holiday there were
indications that heavy fighting had broken
out in the eastern-most corner of the Wanni
battle field, south of Mullaithivu. Heavy
fighting was reported in the Alampil area,
on the southern edge of the Nayaru Lagoon.
According to the Defence Ministry, troops
from the 59th Division were moving on three
lines in the area. The Tigers also said that
there were heavy clashes during the last
weekend of 2008 and later handed over 16
bodies to the army through the ICRC.
Moving into Muliyaweli
Last week the Defence Ministry said that
troops were moving into the Muliyaweli area
that lies south west of Mullaithivu.
"Heavy clashes have been reported between
army infantrymen and the terrorists in the
north of Muliyaweli from 9 a.m to 2.30 p.m
on Monday (December 29) as the troops
extended their forward boundaries further
northwards. Intercepted terrorist radio
transmissions have confirmed heavy damage to
the terrorists during these clashes.
"Meanwhile, troops of 592 Brigade operating
in the western flank of the 593 Brigade have
made further headway on their flanking
movement. Infantrymen of 12 Sri Lanka Light
Infantry (12 SLLI) and the 14 Gajaba
Regiment (14 GR) attacked terrorist groups
in the north of Karurelankandal and
Kulamuripu areas during daytime yesterday as
they extended their forward boundaries
further northwards of the A-34 Road (Mankulam-Mullaithivu).
"Troops of 591 Brigade engaged in a
northward move along the Alampil-
Mullaithivu Road confronted a group of
terrorists in the South of Chilawatte area
around 9, last morning," the Ministry said
on December 30 calling the move a "shocking
manoeuvre on the battlefield dragging the
LTTE further closer to its certain defeat."
Shift in focus
In fact the Ministry had indicated the focus
had shifted from Killinochchi to Mullaithivu
just days before troops moved into
Killinochchi. "The strategic focus of the
Wanni counter terrorist operation shifted
from the Killinochchi front to the
Mullaithivu front once troops gained total
control over the western shores of the
"At present, LTTE terrorists are mainly
confined to a triangular shaped area edged
by the A-9 road from the west, A-34 road
from the south and the northeastern coastal
belt stretching from Mullaithivu to
If troops gain access and control of
Muliyaweli troops are likely to run into one
of the main assets developed by the Tigers -
the Muliyaweli runway close to the coast.
According to the article in the Jane's
Defence Weekly, the runway was first cleared
and constructed between late 2006 and
October 2007. It was originally 1000 m. long
and 30 m. wide, but latest satellite imagery
has shown that it was being lengthened by
another 1000 m., making it the fourth
longest runway in the country after
Katunayake, Palaly and China Bay.
The Muliyaweli runway
The runway has been bombed and repaired in
2007 and 2008. The Muliyaweli runway,
according to the satellite imagery is longer
than Iranamadu, which was one of the reasons
that the article concluded that the Tigers
were paving longer runways to allow larger
planes to use them for gun running. There
has been evidence to suggest that either
Iranamadu or Muliyaweli have been used by
Interestingly however it was over Muliyaweli
that the airforce reported shooting down a
Tiger aircraft after the September 9 air and
ground attack on the Wanni Defence
Headquarters at Vavuniya.
The two Tiger aircraft had taken a
north-eastern route towards Mullaithivu
after the attack and one of the airforce F 7
aircraft that was airborne had reported a
radar lock and a missile being fired at the
Zlin. The Tiger aircraft had thereafter
exploded according to the airforce.
The Tigers said that all their aircraft
returned safely after the attack and no
images of the wreckage have been located or
photographed from above.
Later on some unconfirmed reports said that
civilians fleeing the area had spoken of a
fire ball falling from the skies and the
Tigers had cordoned off the area and
prevented the civilians from leaving.
Rumours in the area had even said that one
of the two in the cockpit of the aircraft
was a Caucasian. The location of the crash
was given as a school on the
Iranapalai-Puthukuduiruppu (PTK) Road.
The Defence Ministry last week said that the
troops had entered the jungle areas between
Muliyaweli and PTK.