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* Troops breach LTTE earth bund, encircle the no-fire zone in northern Sri Lanka
Tuesday, May 12, 2009, 19:06 GMT, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 12, Colombo: Sri Lankan troops engaged in a military offensive in the no-fire zone of Northern Sri Lanka breached a massive LTTE earth bund this morning and have marched 300 meters in to the no-fire zone, the military said.

The troops of 59th division have crossed the Nanthikadal lagoon this morning and entered the rebel controlled land breaching the earth bund. The troops have been attempting to cross the lagoon for the past few days but held back due to the heavy artillery fire from the rebels.

The LTTE have been firing artillery parallel to the ground and also from the Jordanian freighter captured by the LTTE some time ago, defence officials said.

The 59 Division troops have formed an extended defence line around the southern end of the new safety zone covering the entire Nanthi Kadal lagoon and the surrounding sea beach and linked with the 53 Division troops who are deployed along the western boundary of the safety zone.

Following intense overnight fighting troops of 58 Division have gained control of the northern boundary of the safety zone this morning and are now consolidating their positions.

The eastern border of the no safety zone is guarded by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Meanwhile, the Tigers carried out three suicide missions within a period of three hours as the troops are inching forward, the Army reported. Several soldiers have been injured due to the attacks.

Sri Lanka Defence Secretary said the troops are in a position to neutralize the LTTE capabilities within 48 hours.

An estimated 50,000 civilians are trapped in the area as the LTTE continues to hold them as a human shield.

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