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Archive for June, 2008

Sri Lanka said the army cut a main supply route for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam when soldiers captured Mannar’s rice-producing area in the latest blow to rebels holding onto their last bases in the north.

“Advancing security forces took control over the entire Mannar `rice bowl’ area” yesterday, the Defense Ministry said in a statement early today. Soldiers captured 120 square kilometers (46 square miles) that “mainly consists of the island’s most fertile paddy fields.”

Soldiers seized 12 kilometers of the main A-32 road in Mannar district, one of the LTTE’s main supply routes, the ministry cited Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a spokesman, as saying. The LTTE hasn’t commented on the fighting.

The LTTE lost the eastern region to the army a year ago in its worst defeat in its 25-year fight for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s north and east. The military has targeted Tamil Tiger leaders since then, killing the group’s political chief, its military intelligence leader and the head of the naval unit, known as the Sea Tigers.

Army units are now “poised and in striking distance” of the LTTE’s coastal stronghold of Veddithalthivu after capturing a 13-kilometer stretch of the coast in Mannar district, the Defense Ministry said in its statement today.

The Mannar area produced a record rice harvest in 1991, according to the Defense Ministry. It is now ranked 23rd out of 27 rice-growing areas in Sri Lanka listed by the government’s Census and Statistics Department in the capital, Colombo. The liberation of the fields will allow production to increase substantially, the department said.

Air, Ground Attacks

Sri Lanka’s military is staging almost daily air and ground assaults on the LTTE’s northern bases. The LTTE said in March the offensives amount to genocide and accused the air force of dropping bombs in civilian areas.

The government said in December that LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was hurt in an air raid on the group’s headquarters at Kilinochchi in the north. S.P. Thamilchelvan, head of the political wing, died in a Nov. 2 air raid near Kilinochchi and the military intelligence chief was killed Jan. 6.

The LTTE’s last weapons-smuggling vessel was destroyed in October, a month after the commander of the rebel navy unit was killed, according to the military.

Truce Ends

President Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s government formally ended a 2002 cease-fire in January. Rajapaksa said last week he is prepared to negotiate with the rebels if they give up their armed struggle.

Prabhakaran said last November it was “political naivety” to expect a peace deal with the government, which he accused of waging a genocidal war.

Any peace process must be based on a homeland for the Tamil people, in the same way the ethnic-Albanian majority in the former Serbian province of Kosovo gained independence, the Tamil Tigers said last September. Tamils make up 11.9 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people, according to the 2001 census.

The LTTE, designated a terrorist group by India, the U.S. and European Union, has about 7,000 fighters operating in the north. It was the first group to use female suicide bombers and develop explosive belts and vests, the U.S. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism said in a 2006 report.

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Sri Lanka said the army cut a main supply route for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam when soldiers captured Mannar’s rice-producing area in the latest blow to rebels holding onto their last bases in the north.

“Advancing security forces took control over the entire Mannar `rice bowl’ area” yesterday, the Defense Ministry said in a statement early today. Soldiers captured 120 square kilometers (46 square miles) that “mainly consists of the island’s most fertile paddy fields.”

Soldiers seized 12 kilometers of the main A-32 road in Mannar district, one of the LTTE’s main supply routes, the ministry cited Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a spokesman, as saying. The LTTE hasn’t commented on the fighting.

The LTTE lost the eastern region to the army a year ago in its worst defeat in its 25-year fight for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s north and east. The military has targeted Tamil Tiger leaders since then, killing the group’s political chief, its military intelligence leader and the head of the naval unit, known as the Sea Tigers.

Army units are now “poised and in striking distance” of the LTTE’s coastal stronghold of Veddithalthivu after capturing a 13-kilometer stretch of the coast in Mannar district, the Defense Ministry said in its statement today.

The Mannar area produced a record rice harvest in 1991, according to the Defense Ministry. It is now ranked 23rd out of 27 rice-growing areas in Sri Lanka listed by the government’s Census and Statistics Department in the capital, Colombo. The liberation of the fields will allow production to increase substantially, the department said.

Air, Ground Attacks

Sri Lanka’s military is staging almost daily air and ground assaults on the LTTE’s northern bases. The LTTE said in March the offensives amount to genocide and accused the air force of dropping bombs in civilian areas.

The government said in December that LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was hurt in an air raid on the group’s headquarters at Kilinochchi in the north. S.P. Thamilchelvan, head of the political wing, died in a Nov. 2 air raid near Kilinochchi and the military intelligence chief was killed Jan. 6.

The LTTE’s last weapons-smuggling vessel was destroyed in October, a month after the commander of the rebel navy unit was killed, according to the military.

Truce Ends

President Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s government formally ended a 2002 cease-fire in January. Rajapaksa said last week he is prepared to negotiate with the rebels if they give up their armed struggle.

Prabhakaran said last November it was “political naivety” to expect a peace deal with the government, which he accused of waging a genocidal war.

Any peace process must be based on a homeland for the Tamil people, in the same way the ethnic-Albanian majority in the former Serbian province of Kosovo gained independence, the Tamil Tigers said last September. Tamils make up 11.9 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people, according to the 2001 census.

The LTTE, designated a terrorist group by India, the U.S. and European Union, has about 7,000 fighters operating in the north. It was the first group to use female suicide bombers and develop explosive belts and vests, the U.S. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism said in a 2006 report.

Read Full Post »

Sri Lanka said the army cut a main supply route for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam when soldiers captured Mannar’s rice-producing area in the latest blow to rebels holding onto their last bases in the north.

“Advancing security forces took control over the entire Mannar `rice bowl’ area” yesterday, the Defense Ministry said in a statement early today. Soldiers captured 120 square kilometers (46 square miles) that “mainly consists of the island’s most fertile paddy fields.”

Soldiers seized 12 kilometers of the main A-32 road in Mannar district, one of the LTTE’s main supply routes, the ministry cited Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a spokesman, as saying. The LTTE hasn’t commented on the fighting.

The LTTE lost the eastern region to the army a year ago in its worst defeat in its 25-year fight for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s north and east. The military has targeted Tamil Tiger leaders since then, killing the group’s political chief, its military intelligence leader and the head of the naval unit, known as the Sea Tigers.

Army units are now “poised and in striking distance” of the LTTE’s coastal stronghold of Veddithalthivu after capturing a 13-kilometer stretch of the coast in Mannar district, the Defense Ministry said in its statement today.

The Mannar area produced a record rice harvest in 1991, according to the Defense Ministry. It is now ranked 23rd out of 27 rice-growing areas in Sri Lanka listed by the government’s Census and Statistics Department in the capital, Colombo. The liberation of the fields will allow production to increase substantially, the department said.

Air, Ground Attacks

Sri Lanka’s military is staging almost daily air and ground assaults on the LTTE’s northern bases. The LTTE said in March the offensives amount to genocide and accused the air force of dropping bombs in civilian areas.

The government said in December that LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was hurt in an air raid on the group’s headquarters at Kilinochchi in the north. S.P. Thamilchelvan, head of the political wing, died in a Nov. 2 air raid near Kilinochchi and the military intelligence chief was killed Jan. 6.

The LTTE’s last weapons-smuggling vessel was destroyed in October, a month after the commander of the rebel navy unit was killed, according to the military.

Truce Ends

President Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s government formally ended a 2002 cease-fire in January. Rajapaksa said last week he is prepared to negotiate with the rebels if they give up their armed struggle.

Prabhakaran said last November it was “political naivety” to expect a peace deal with the government, which he accused of waging a genocidal war.

Any peace process must be based on a homeland for the Tamil people, in the same way the ethnic-Albanian majority in the former Serbian province of Kosovo gained independence, the Tamil Tigers said last September. Tamils make up 11.9 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people, according to the 2001 census.

The LTTE, designated a terrorist group by India, the U.S. and European Union, has about 7,000 fighters operating in the north. It was the first group to use female suicide bombers and develop explosive belts and vests, the U.S. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism said in a 2006 report.

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India is to send thousands of troops, war ships and helicopters to Sri Lanka as part of security for next month’s South Asian summit in Colombo, diplomatic sources said Sunday.

New Delhi is planning to send three war ships with a combined force of up to 3,000 security personnel because of fears that Tamil Tiger rebels could stage land, sea or air attacks, diplomats and officials said.

“Given the security situation in Colombo, it is important for India to address all possibilities because the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) will be attending,” a top diplomatic source said.

He said war ships with helicopters will be anchored off Sri Lanka’s coast in case the island’s only international airport was forced to shut.

The airport has been attacked several times by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Sri Lanka has closed its air space and diverted regular commercial flights to neighbouring India and the Maldives when the Tigers flew their light aircraft on bombing missions in Colombo and elsewhere.

The Tigers also operate a fleet of speed boats and have staged attacks against Sri Lankan ports.

Diplomats said security arrangements for the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit were discussed nine days ago between Colombo and New Delhi and an agreement reached.

There was no formal word from the Sri Lankan authorities about the Indian security cover for the summit, which will gather leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Many roads in the capital are closed and access limited to authorised vehicles amid fears of attacks by the Tamil Tigers, who are fighting for an independent homeland for the island’s Tamil minority concentrated in the northeast.

Security forces are locked in combat with the Tigers in the north. A daily death toll is reported from the area and fighting has escalated since Colombo pulled out of a Norwegian-arranged truce in January.

(AFP)

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Sri Lankan security forces kept up an offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels, killing at least 30 guerrillas for the loss of two soldiers, the defence ministry said Monday.

Troops shot dead 30 rebels in the districts of Vavuniya, Mannar and Mullaitivu on Sunday, the ministry said, adding another 34 were wounded.

Security forces suffered two soldiers killed and 13 wounded, the ministry said.

There was no immediate word from the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on the latest violence.

The defence ministry’s claim takes the number of rebels reported killed by government troops since the beginning of the year to 4,616, against the loss of 420 soldiers.

Government figures cannot be independently verified as journalists are barred from visiting frontline areas.

Sri Lanka has suffered from a bitter and bloody ethnic conflict for more than three decades. The rebels say they are fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils.

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Vows to capture sea supply base in Mannar soon

The military yesterday said the strategically important area in the Mannar District, known as ‘rice bowl’ comprising an area of 120 square kilometers was completely brought under its control.

“The area called ‘rice bowl’ or the entire green patch in the district had been brought under full military control by yesterday after months of fighting”, military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara told the Daily Mirror yesterday. The area is called the ‘rice bowl due to the large tracts of paddy fields in the area which yielded the biggest paddy harvest in the country in 1991.

Brig. Nanayakkara said the military commenced its operation to capture Mannar district in September 2007 and so far had killed over 2,100 LTTE cadres and injured over 1,500 cadres. The number of military casualties was not available at the time this edition went to press.

“Losing the ‘rice bowl’ area is a major set back for the LTTE and for the military it is a major achievement as troops are nearing the end of their objective to capture the entire district soon including the Vidaththaltivu area, which is the Tigers’ sea supply base”, the spokesman said.

He also said the military had to face many difficulties when capturing this area as the Tigers had massive and strong defence lines in the area.

The liberated area comprises 150 small reservoirs fed by the Yoda Wewa.

The Army’s 58 Division had carried out the operation to capture this area, consisting Parappakandal, Giant Tank, Alampil, Parappakadattan, Andankulam, Palakkuli, Palampiddi, Periyamadu, Andankulam and Adampan areas, including several and large Tiger bases.

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Vows to capture sea supply base in Mannar soon

The military yesterday said the strategically important area in the Mannar District, known as ‘rice bowl’ comprising an area of 120 square kilometers was completely brought under its control.

“The area called ‘rice bowl’ or the entire green patch in the district had been brought under full military control by yesterday after months of fighting”, military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara told the Daily Mirror yesterday. The area is called the ‘rice bowl due to the large tracts of paddy fields in the area which yielded the biggest paddy harvest in the country in 1991.

Brig. Nanayakkara said the military commenced its operation to capture Mannar district in September 2007 and so far had killed over 2,100 LTTE cadres and injured over 1,500 cadres. The number of military casualties was not available at the time this edition went to press.

“Losing the ‘rice bowl’ area is a major set back for the LTTE and for the military it is a major achievement as troops are nearing the end of their objective to capture the entire district soon including the Vidaththaltivu area, which is the Tigers’ sea supply base”, the spokesman said.

He also said the military had to face many difficulties when capturing this area as the Tigers had massive and strong defence lines in the area.

The liberated area comprises 150 small reservoirs fed by the Yoda Wewa.

The Army’s 58 Division had carried out the operation to capture this area, consisting Parappakandal, Giant Tank, Alampil, Parappakadattan, Andankulam, Palakkuli, Palampiddi, Periyamadu, Andankulam and Adampan areas, including several and large Tiger bases.

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