Sri Lankan troops surged forward on Monday after seizing the last big town held by Tamil Tiger rebels, aiming to strike a death blow to a 25-year insurgency, the military said.
On Sunday, the army announced the capture of the last big town held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the eastern port of Mullaittivu the rebels seized in 1996 and turned into a major military operations and command centre.
But some analysts have suggested the Tigers are at home in the jungle and could mount a counter-attack.
The LTTE say they are the sole representatives of the Tamil minority, which complains of mistreatment by successive governments led by the Sinhalese ethnic majority since independence from Britain in 1948.
And many are asking just how quickly the ground war will be over. The army's commander, Lieutenant-General Sarath Fonseka, has forecast totaly victory by mid-April.
"The troops are consolidating their positions in Mullaittivu today, and the other troops are moving towards Puthukudiruppu and others are fighting south of there," military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said, referring to an LTTE-held village.
Aid agencies say about 230,000 civilians fleeing the fighting are trapped in the war zone. Rights groups and the government accuse the LTTE of keeping them as human shields.
At least 100 civilians were killed in army's attacks on Tamil Tigers last week, according to a top government official working in the Tiger-controlled area.
The LTTE could not be reached for comment. The pro-rebel website www.TamilNet.com said that the military on Monday hit the safety zone and killed 22 civilians and wounding 60, citing medical sources it did not identify.
Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2009, 15:50
It is difficult to get a clear picture from the war zone, since both sides block independent media from entering it.