Closing in from three sides on the cornered LTTE,including its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran,in their shrinking territory in the northern part of island,Sri Lankan forces on Thursday pushed back the rebels further killing 41 of them in fierce fighting.
The army,which outnumbers and outguns the rebels,is now virtually close to encircling Vellamullivaikkal,close to the coast where Prabhakaran and his top aides are believed to be hiding,as President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday declared that terrorism cannot be given a second chance.
“We have no plans to go for a ceasefire with the Tigers,” Rajapaksa said and warned the rebels that they must give up or be killed.
His brother Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told the British and French foreign ministers that Sri Lanka will keep up its military offensive until the leaders of the LTTE,mainly its chief Prabhakaran is captured “dead or alive”.
Speaking at a public function at Ambilipitiya in Western Sri Lanka,the President called on the LTTE that they should release all civilians being held as hostage and surrender.
He said the decision to stop using heavy weapons and combat aircrafts on battlefront was not due to international pressure,but because the government itself was concerned about ensuring safety of civilians in LTTE-controlled areas.
With the LTTE fast losing their territory,Rajapaksa told them they had little time left to drop their weapons and surrender as the military operation was at its final stage.
But as the army made deeper inroads into the LTTE-held areas,the rebels,according to army sources,are putting up a very stiff resistance.
The pro-LTTE TamilNet website on Thursday quoted the top rebels leaders that the Tamil Tigers will never surrender to the advancing Sri Lankan forces and appealed to the international countries to work for a ceasefire.
During the past 48 hours security forces advanced further South of Rektavaikkal,shrinking the remaining swathe of the LTTE-controlled land to a mere 7 sq kms where the rebels are expected to face their end game,military sources said.
The troops advanced south and the personnel of 53rd Division are moving in from west of Vellamullivaikkal,spear-heading the rescue operations,the defence ministry said.
Citing latest reports from the Mullaittivu front,the sources said that at least 15 LTTE rebels were killed and another 20 injured during confrontations between troops and LTTE in general area Karayamullivaikkal on Wednesday.
The LTTE casualties are expected to rise as infantrymen made decisive ground manoeuvres deeper into enemy territory despite heavy mine fields.
Meanwhile,army snipers deployed in near No-Fire-Zone have gunned-down 14 more LTTE cadres.
Troops using small fire and snipers took several targets bringing the LTTE death toll to over a dozen,ground troops confirmed. A few soldiers also sustained injuries in the enemy-fire,the army said.
Sources said it is feared that LTTE would perpetrate more brutality in the face of imminent defeat.
Troops recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunitions from the Kuppilankulam area during search operations on Wednesday,the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.
So far over 1,15,000 Tamil hostages have been rescued by security forces.