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DateLine Wednesday, 17 October 2007

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Hunt on for Yala Tigers

Park to open in a few days:

Troops continued a massive search operation inside the Yala National Park with reinforcements arriving there yesterday morning in search of LTTE cadres who had launched a surprise attack on an isolated Army detachment in Thalgasmankada on Monday evening.

Out of the seven soldiers who were at the Army detachment, six were killed in the LTTE attack on Monday evening. One soldier survived with injuries, sources said.

However, the number of deaths increased to seven as the tractor transporting the bodies of the soldiers was caught in a land mine explosion last morning, just 300 to 600 metres away from the Army detachment.

Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told the Daily News that one soldier was killed and five others injured in the land mine explosion.

Brigadier Nanayakkara said the bodies were flown to Hambantota hospital for the post mortem while the injured were airlifted to the Matara hospital."Battered LTTE cadres fleeing from Thoppigala would have launched this desperate attack to convey the message about their presence in the South," Brigadier Nanayakkara added.

Sources from the Yala National Park said Special Forces troops were deployed to conduct the search operation. "We believe that nearly 20 to 25 cadres would have entered the park to launch this desperate attack targeting the isolated Army detachment," military sources added.

Military sources ruled out any connection between the reopening of the Yala national Park and this isolated incident. "This is just a coincidence and is not connected to the opening of the Park," a senior military official added.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka told the Daily News that though the Park was scheduled to open yesterday after a one month vacation from September 15 the opening was postponed until the completion of the search operation by the troops.

"We are quite confident that we will be able to open the Park to the public within next few days after the Armed Forces provide a security assurance," the Minister added. Minister Ranawaka also said that no Wild Life staff or visitors at the camping sites were affected in the incident.

 

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