Battle of Pooneryn
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|Battle of Pooneryn|
|Part of the Sri Lankan civil war|
|Military of Sri Lanka||Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam|
|Casualties and losses|
|469 killed|
The Battle of Pooneryn was a battle fought on November 11, 1993 for the town of Pooneryn.
The main target of the LTTE in the shorline offensive was the Sri Lankan government naval base at Pooneryn. The camp controlled the southern shore of the Jaffna lagoon and was being used as a command center for government forces preventing the Liberation Tigers from using the lagoon to supply the peninsula.
On November 11, around 2:00 a.m., the LTTE launched a massive attack from land and the lagoon, simultaneously engaging the Nagathevanthurai naval base and the army defense lines in Pooneryn. The SLA troops were taken by surprise because they didn't expect the Tigers to come over the lagoon. It is now believed that, prior to the attack, the LTTE had managed to infiltrate a commando group through the Forward Defense Lines, with the mission of overrunning the gun armor positions. Heavy anti-aircraft fire was used by the Tigers to prevent any air support for the SLAF. Sri Lankan soldiers were so surprised by the attack that no organized resistance really existed. Most of the troops fighting back formed independent groups that broke down into even smaller groups as the battle progressed and in the end it was every man for himself. The SLA soldiers were fighting for their very lives. However, there were instances of bravery on the SLA side. One example is 2nd Lt. K.W.T. Nissanka, a platoon commander. He sacrificed his life to enable his troops to withdraw with their wounded. As his soldiers were withdrawing from their bunkers he removed the pins on two grenades and ran towards the enemy; the grenades exploded, killing him and the attacking Tigers instantly. By dawn the next day large parts of the base were overrun, although some army units still managed to hold out in bunkers along the shore.
As a result of the attack, the Nagathevanthurai naval base was overrun and all craft were destroyed or taken over by the LTTE. The Tigers captured several naval gunboats, heavy mortars and two tanks, though one was later destroyed in an air attack. Large quantities of other arms and ammunition were also taken. The Sri Lankan military alleged that 200 soldiers were captured by the Tigers and then executed. Another 241 soldiers, including eight officers, were killed in the fighting itself. The LTTE lost 469 fighters killed. Up to 200 soldiers remained missing.