Residents of Irupalai, in Jaffna, attacked and chased away two LTTE cadres, who were attempting to set a high powered claymore mine, targeting security forces yesterday afternoon, sources in the North said.
The LTTE cadres, who arrived on a motor bike, had tried to fix the bomb across the road used by the military personnel in their daily mobile patrols. The residents of Irupalai had opposed this and thereafter they had clashed with the LTTE men.
Unable to face the attack , the tigers had escaped with their bomb. Later, the villagers had informed the security forces of the incident. Subsequently, the troops had mounted a search operation in the area, sources said.
A senior military spokesman in Jaffna said that the LTTE had attempted to fix the bomb in the same area where they had blasted a similar mine on December 6 killing eight soldiers.
If the alert civilians did not thwart the LTTE effort, several more lives of security personnel would have been in danger, he added.
Having failed in their bid to provoke the security forces to retaliate and create an excuse for a return to war, the LTTE have planned a massive offensive against the security forces in the Jaffna peninsula, a senior military spokesman in Jaffna told The Island yesterday
The escalating number and ferocity of the LTTE attacks had indicated to the intelligence units that the LTTE had planned an offensive as their tactic of setting civilians against the troops to provoke them to resume war had failed, he said.
The number of soldiers lost in the recent spate of LTTE killing reached 18 when they gunned down a soldier near the Saivam Kovil in Jaffna on Tuesday night around 9.40, he said.
The soldier was identified as private G. A. Priyadarashana attached to the 51 Brigade. Priydarashana was from Kebitigollewa, sources said.
On the same night, the LTTE cadres had hurled grenades at the Point Pedro army checkpoint but soldiers escaped injuries, sources said.
In another incident, the LTTE cadres had shot at an army patrol near the Pillaiyar Kovil in Jaffna. One soldier was injured and admitted to the Jaffna Hospital, sources said.
Two persons were arrested yesterday over Tuesday night`s killing, sources further said.