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Troops capture Elephant Pass:

Road to Jaffna open

The Security Forces made a historic move after fully capturing the Jaffna -Kandy highway connecting the south with the Jaffna peninsula after a lapse of 23 years.

Troops of the 53 and 55 Divisions with the support of the 58 Division took full control of the strategically important Elephant Pass by yesterday afternoon, President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced yesterday.

The President said by this move the Security Forces were able to connect people in Dondra Head with the people in Point Pedro after 23 years in an environment sans terrorism making a bridge of peace between the South and the North.

“This is one of the historic moves by the Security Forces,” the President added.

The 53 Division under the command of Brigadier Kamal Gunaratne and the 55 Division under the command of Brigadier Prasanna Silva advancing from Muhamalai and Kilali front reached this historic moment yesterday afternoon after they linked up with the troops of the 58 Division who had taken control of the Elephant Pass south by Tuesday.

The 58 division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva cleared the path for the 53 Division and 55 Division to move towards the South of Jaffna peninsula compelling LTTE cadres to vacate many of the areas they held in the southern part of the Jaffna peninsula.

“We offer our heartiest gratitude to the Security Forces who reached this historic victory making the year 2009 an year of military victories,” the President added. He recalled that the people of this country heard the fall of Paranthan, Kilinochchi and now the Elephant Pass with the dawn of the year 2009.

With the capture of Elephant Pass, troops were able to clear 96 kilometre stretch of the A-9 road between Omanthai and Muhamalai after two years of military operations in Vanni and in the Northern battle fronts.

According to military officials this is the first time the A-9 road is open upto Jaffna under military control after Security Forces lost control of it after the departure of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in the late 1980 s. The Security Forces lost control of Elephant Pass in April, 2000 which goes into the history as the biggest setback of the Sri Lanka Army.

President Rajapaksa said that 353 soldiers were killed, 359 reported missing in action and over 2,500 soldiers injured during the Elephant Pass withdrawal in April 2000. “It is after nine years troops are taking control of Elephant Pass from the clutches of the LTTE,” the President added.

The Sri Lanka Army lost its most senior Deputy General Officer Commanding the 54 Division Brigadier Percy Fernando and three Brigade Commanders Lt. Colonel Bhathiya Jayatilleke, Haris Hewaarachchi and Neil Akmeemana during the Elephant Pass withdrawal in the year 2000.

It was Major General Denzil Kobbekaduwa who commanded the troops to liberate Elephant Pass camp once the LTTE lay siege to it in July 10, 1991.

The troops under the command of Major General Denzil Kobbekaduwa inducted in Vettilaikerni on July 14 finally liberated the camp on August 4, 1991.

The Elephant Pass camp also goes into the military history with the supreme sacrifice made by Corporal Hasalaka Gamini who sacrificed his life to defend of the Army camp from the explosive laden bulldozer that was coming into the camp in 1991. He was posthumously decorated with the highest gallantry award for his sacrifice.


Elephant Pass

A historical chronology:

* 1983 - The Sri Lanka Army establishes a detachment.

* 1991 - July 14 LTTE launches a massive attack on the Elephant Pass camp.

* 1991 - July 14,Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment rifleman Gamini Kularatne made the supreme sacrifice to defend Elephant Pass camp immobilising the explosive laden LTTE bulldozer that came into the camp. He was posthumously awarded the highest gallantry award PWN (Parama Weera Vibhushana).

* 1991 - August 4, The LTTE attempt to take the Elephant Pass base was beaten back by the troops led by Major General Denzil Kobbekaduwa with the conduct of Operation Balaveghaya.

* 2000 - April 22, LTTE attacks Iyakachchi and Elephant Pass military complexes and the troops withdrew as the LTTE cut off fresh water supply to the military complex from Iyakachchi junction.

* 2009 - January 06, Troops attached to 58 Division re-capture Elephant Pass South.

* 2009 - January 09, Troops re-capture entire Elephant Pass.

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