COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lankan troops fighting Tamil rebels captured Elephant Pass Friday, a strategic causeway linking the Jaffna peninsula with the mainland, the President said. The Tamil Tigers had held the pass since April 2000, and its loss is another huge blow to the separatist rebels after the fall of their political capital, Kilinochchi, last week. "Our forces have recorded another historic victory today," President Mahinda Rajapakse said in a televised address to the nation. "That is the complete dislodging of the Tigers from Elephant Pass and the security forces establishing their authority there," he said. The military now controls a 142-kilometre stretch of the important A-9 highway and can supply troops and nearly half a million civilians in Jaffna by road, the president said. Elephant Pass fell to govt soldiers advancing northwards from Kilinochchi and another column that moved south from earlier army defences on the Jaffna peninsula, military officials said. "They have established full control over Elephant Pass after entering the south of the area four days ago," an official said. The government's coalition partners said the victory was a big defeat for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who have been waging a bitter war with Sri Lanka since 1972. "The fall of Elephant Pass, is the biggest military defeat for the LTTE, who have now fled to the nearby jungles of Mullaittivu," Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told reporters in the presence of coalition members. There was no comment from the LTTE. Residents in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo took to the streets and set off firecrackers as radio stations announced the capture of the pass. Government forces were also moving towards the remaining jungle hideouts of the Tigers in the north-eastern district of Mullaittivu amid rebel resistance, the army said. The rebels are now almost totally confined to the jungle district of Mullaittivu in the northeast, where some 300,000 civilians are also living. Minister de Silva said it was now a matter of weeks before the military would be able to "free civilians trapped by the LTTE's clutches" inside Mullaittivu. Separately Friday, four civilians and three security personnel were killed in the adjoining district of Trincomalee when a powerful roadside bomb struck their bus in an ambush by suspected Tiger rebels. A military official said troops were escorting the bus when it was hit. At least six civilians were wounded in the powerful blast.