1:06 PM

Sri Lanka Government to open up A-32 Road

One of the main objectives of the present liberation operation in the North is to find an alternate land route for the people of the Jaffna Peninsula to travel down to the South and other parts of the country. Government spokesman expressed optimism that the LTTE controlled Pooneryn in Kilinochchi district is expected to fall soon and A 32 Road will be opened up for the people of the Jaffna peninsula to travel up and down to the country’s South Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella : "Once we retake Pooneryn located in the Northwest coastline, the supply lines to the LTTE from that side of India will be totally stopped." Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella : "Once we retake Pooneryn located in the Northwest coastline, the supply lines to the LTTE from that side of India will be totally stopped."

Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella, Government Spokesman for Defence and National Security, when speaking to News told that A-9 land route to Colombo was closed to the people of the Jaffna peninsula due to the intransigence of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. He said Prabakaran and his men continue to shed crocodile tears while adamantly refusing to lay down their arms and thus bringing untold misery and hardship to our Tamil brethrens.

Given below the excerpts if the interview News had with Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella:

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela: As you know now that Vidathaltivu, the LTTE’s largest sea base located in the Northwest coastline has fallen and we are trying get through to Pooneryn located in the A 32 Road, in the Kilinochchi district, which lays on the south of the Jaffna Lagoon and could reach Karativu on the other side of the Lagoon and to Jaffna via Navatkuli through a ferry.

Once we retake Pooneryn located in the Northwest coastline, the supply lines to the LTTE from that side of India will be totally stopped. Also on the other side we are almost there in Nayaru. Even today (09 August), the Air Force planes attacked Nayaru.

Basically the sea-bases which the Sea Tigers have been boasting about are now coming under the control of the Government forces. If you look at, in the last three months basically there was only three confrontations by the Sea Tigers and in those confrontations Navy was able to take control of those situations over there.Map showing A - 32 RoadMap showing A - 32 Road

The important thing is that what Soosai, Head of LTTE's Sea Tiger unit of the LTTE has been boasting about is not receding but it almost coming to zero, which in turn means that Navy has consolidated their positions and taken control of the entire Northwest sea belt.

News : Since the capture of Vidathaltivu, so far you have finished mopping up all the areas in the Mannar District. Now the next town beyond Velankulam in A – 32 Road is Kumulamunai and Pallavarayankaddu ?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : That is on the North West Coast?

News: Yes. These two areas are falling under Kilinochchi district?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : These areas are cutting across Kilinochchi … no? So if we now move from A point to B point, i.e., from Mannar to Pooneryn, then it means that we are cutting half way into Kilinochchi.

News : Then there is the Kalmunai Point from where Tigers fire artilleries to Palali Army Complex and the Forward Defence Line - Muhamalai

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : Basically their heavy artillery guns are presently positioned in Pooneryn. Once we reach there and take over Pooneryn, they have to flee leaving those guns behind or move their heavy guns away from there, then the attacks on Palali and Muhamali will cease, because the range of those guns in the possession of the LTTE are between 24KM to 27 KM only. So that will cut off.

Also there is another important issue that has cropped up now. We have cleared the complete area in and around the Madhu Church. Apart from the normal duties of the Army, it went all out and completely cleared the area from land mines and booby traps laid by the LTTE and made the roads available for the people to come in to Madhu.

We did all things needed for the Madhu, but of course we cannot get into the administration of the Madhu Church. Therefore we have now handed over the area to the Bishop. Now our understanding is that there are seven Catholic priests living over there.

Earlier the Statue of Our Lady of Madhu was taken to an LTTE controlled area 40 KM away. That area Devanpiddy is now under the Government control. But unfortunately the Bishop has made a statement that they are not going to hold the annual feast for this year.

News: It seems that they have some time constraints, because Bishop took over the Church on the 6th of August and the feast has to be held on the 15th of August

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : You mean to say they faces logistical problems.

News: I think yes, but the Bishop of Mannar has stated that Sri Lanka Government as well as the LTTE should declare Madhu area a ‘No Conflict Zone’ on the lines also urged by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka. Your comments?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : That was a very contentious statement. When the area was held by the LTTE, either the Bishop of Mannar or the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka did not urge the LTTE to declare Madhu as a ‘No Conflict Zone’.

But now when Government has taken over the Madhu area, the Bishop wants that area to be declared as a sacred area or in other words a ‘No Conflict Zone’. The fact remains that he did not make such demands when the LTTE was there.

News: According to our information the entire Madhu region and neighboring areas are under the control of the Government, then where is LTTE coming into this picture?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : The whole area is under a legitimate government.

News: Then how come the Bishop expects the Tamil Tigers to make a statement?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : We are very much concerned about the statement made by the Bishop of Mannar. Because there is no way the LTTE can provide security as the whole Madhu region is under the control of the sovereign legitimate Government of Sri Lanka. It amounts to Bishop inviting LTTE as a party to the territory. That is why we are very much concerned about the contentious statement of the Bishop of Mannar.

News: Why doesn’t the Government invite the Bishop of Mannar and members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka and find out what they are up to?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : I intend to discuss this issue with our President and suggest him to invite the Bishops to discuss about this issue.