Sri Lanka: November 6, 1999

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The LTTE offensive captured four more towns. The army position became indefensible when several thousand government troops withdrew from their major forward base at Mankulam on the A-9 highway. The fighting is taking place in the largely jungle covered Wanni district, some 260 kilometers north of the capital Colombo.

November 6; The LTTE retook their seventh town (Kanakarayankulam) in four days of fighting. Last year, several thousand government troops lost their lives taking the town from the LTTE. 

November 5; The government announced they had made a "tactical withdrawal" from their major forward base at Mankulam. The government defeat is political, as well as military. The current government, facing elections, tried to take a lot of LTTE territory to improve their chances at the polls. The army spread itself too thin and the LTTE took advantage of it.

November 4; The government sent thousands of additional troops north to try and hold the line against the surprise LTTE counteroffensive. The LTTE, with excellent knowledge of the terrain they have held for years, are constantly bypassing and surrounding retreating army units. The army announced that 107 soldiers had been killed so far, and 202 wounded. They estimated about 115 LTTE fighters killed so far. Army losses are likely to be much higher if the army is unable to extract its troops from the jungle terrain they are retreating through.

November 3; LTTE forces hit a third government held town with artillery and closed into capture it, after having already retaken two other towns. LTTE troops are advancing through the jungle and cutting off army units, which are in terrain the LTTE knows much better.

November 2; Surprise barrages of LTTE artillery and mortar fire shocked government troops in the north as LTTE infantry columns moved through the jungle past widely spread out army units. One government held town has already been abandoned and government troops are trying to pull back.

November 1; The government advance into LTTE territory in the north came to a sudden halt as LTTE artillery and mortars fired on army troops and bases. Dozens of platoon size (20-30 men) LTTE infantry units moved through the jungle and fired on army units from all sides. Army troops, unsure of the situation, began to pull back. But meanwhile, the LTTE units continued advancing towards government bases. 

 

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