Gallant soldiers of Army Task Force 1 and Commando Brigade operating on the Mannar war front liberated the strategically important Vidattaltivu town this morning (July 16). Vidattaltivu is the largest town situated on the North- Western coast of the Island, 20 km North of Mannar and used by the terrorists as their main Sea-Tiger base cum logistic hub in the West.
Soldiers of Task Force 1 on Tuesday evening (July15) commenced their forward march from their initial locations at the Southern limits of Vidattaltivu town, i.e. few hundreds meters short of Vidattaltivu terror defence, located 2 Km South of the town. These troops were able to capture a 2.5km stretch of the LTTE Forward Defence by late in the evening .
Unable to withstand the military onslaught, terrorists started to flee further northwards towards and later suffered heavy damages during their withdrawal as the elite commandos flanking in the Northeastern boundaries of Vidattaltivu laid an ambush on them. The commandos confronted with a group of approximately 60 LTTE cadres around 1.45 p.m. As the terrorist started to withdraw towards Iluppaikkadaval , North of Vidattaltivu commandos called in indirect fire. As a result, heavy artillery and multi barrel rocket fire were directed at the terrorists. Also , Air Force launched close air support missions to ground troops using MI 24 helicopter gunships. Ground troops claimed over 30 terrorists were killed due to artillery and air assault while the rest turned tail.
Meanwhile, troops approaching from the East of Vidattaltivu cut off the Mannar - Poonaryn road at a location 2 Km North of Vidattaltivu early this morning, besetting the terror stronghold from the South, East and the North. Later, troops marched into the town and declared the area liberated for the first time since 1987.
Sources at the battlefield said that the soldiers approached from South had to cross a strong LTTE defence built on a 7 feet tall earth bump with a deep ditch in front of it, before they entered into the Vidattaltivu town limits. This defence cut across the Mannar- Poonaryn road, 2 Km South of Vidattaltivu and ran 10 Km from the coast to Paramarayankulama, situated 8 Km South East of Vidattaltivu . At that, the defence was consisted with fortified bunkers made out of thick wooden logs at every 150m distances.
Following the successful capture of the Mannar `Rice Bowl` troops within 24 hours commenced their march towards Vidattaltivu . Troops halted 200m South of the above-mentioned strong LTTE defence and waited until the new front opened up by the 582 brigade of the Task Force-1 and the commandos to make their approach from the East. This new front opened up 10 Km East of Vidattaltivu managed to reach Mannar - Poonaryn road North of Vidattaltivu within one week.
While conquering the strong defence line of the LTTE in the South, troops braved dense mine fields removing hundreds of anti personnel mines, improvised explosive devices and booby traps. During last 10 days, troops expecting to bring up on maximum attrition rate over the terrorists attacked and destroy a large number of bunkers situated along the LTTE defence. According to the ground and radio monitoring sources at least 100 LTTE cadres were killed and equal number or more were wounded during these confrontations. Also, commandos alone found 28 bodies of slain LTTE cadres during this period.
Commander of Task Force 1 , Brigadier Shavendra Silva speaking to Defence.lk said that this was the first time that the Army dominated Vidattaltivu area after 21 years . Not even during major military operations such as Ranagosa and Jayasikuru , army had been able cross the strong LTTE defence that runs over 10 km East from the Southern coast of Vidattaltivu, he added.
Meanwhile, Defence observers are in the view that the loss of Vidattaltivu would cast a fatal blow on LTTE as it has lost the most important Sea-Tiger base in the present context. According to them the terrorists has no other option than to shift their Sea-Tiger assets to a makeshift camp further Northwards with the loss of its well-established sea borne operation base.
Following its loss of 10 arms carrying ships to Sri Lanka Navy, and the loss of land domination over Eastern coast to army and also due to the strong sea blockade maintained by navy in the North-Eastern waters , the only available sea supply route for the LTTE has been identified as the one across the Gulf of Mannar. Presence of large amount of Indian fishing vessels and less maneuverability available for the navy ships in the coastal waters over the shallow continental shelf have made it virtually impossible to ensure complete denial of enemy use of sea lines of communication. Therefore, the loss of Vidattaltivu, the best geographical location in the North-West coast for Sea Tiger operations will be huge loss to the terrorists than it is really depicted in terms of square kilometers, defence observers added.