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Archive for July 13th, 2008

Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph has declared that the sacred Madhu statue cannot be returned to the original place in the newly liberated area ahead of the annual feast next month.

Two months after the Madhu Shrine area in Mannar was liberated by the security forces, Bishop Joseph says he has still not got clearance from the security forces to visit the area and says it is time for the devotees to be allowed back into their Church.

“I have sought permission from the security forces to go there, stay there and clean up the area. Unless both parties declare a no war zone around the area, I will be unable to bring the Madhu Statue of Our Lady to the church by August 15 – the day of the feast,” the Bishop said.

He said the Army has given an assurance that the forces would keep two and a half kilometres away from the Madhu shrine but he has so far had no such assurance from the LTTE but is waiting to meet and talk to the Tigers soon after he is granted an appointment by them,” he said.

The Bishop has been informed by the Army that there is no military presence inside the Church compound. Nearly 40,000 people in the Madhu area have been displaced and they have been pushed further into the LTTE-controlled area.

“Only after the Army cleared the Madhu area my Vicar General Father Victor Soosai visited there once and he could only spend very little time. Since then nobody was allowed to enter the area. We have to do a lot of work before celebrating the Feast of Our Lady. The forces have taken over the Madhu shrine area and now they have to hand it over to us,” the Bishop said.

He added that he would be meeting with the Wanni security forces commander next week to put forward the suggestions of the Church. “Meanwhile the normal Mass will be held on August 15 to mark Our Lady’s feast at St. Xavier’s Church at Palampiddi where the statue is now. Also we are celebrating the feast in all the parishes in the Mannar diocese. . Only one of the seven parishes are functioning in Madhu currently,” he said.

(Sunday Times)

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Very little is now known of life beyond the frontlines in the north. With access to outsiders limited to a bare minimum, whatever is known is gleaned off secondary sources.

The Wanni, lined on either side by the Muhamalai line that runs about 12km from end to end and the Mannar-Weli Oya line that stretches 115km, is now smack in the middle of military advances by government forces and Tigers resistance.

Military success

The military movement north has proved successful though time consuming. They have gained ground especially in the Mannar sector with troops as close as 2.5km from the Viddithalathivu bay, and  now stationed just south of Periyamadhu, northwest of Madhu.

There have been limited success in the Weli Oya sector, where troops commenced their advances through the thick jungle last December. Troops have reached the outskirts of the One Four Base, and have brought at least two satellite camps of the complex under their control.

There are no civilians in the areas where the fighting is now taking place. In Mannar, troops have moved through open terrain where civilians had fled north, months earlier. In the Weli Oya sector, the frontlines are on the edges of the Mulaithivu jungles which for decades were Tiger hideouts and there are no civilians along the 12km northern FDL.

Reports tally

But the absence of civilians along the frontlines does not mean that ordinary non-combatants are not caught in the fighting. Two reports that came out last week, one by the University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) Jaffna, and another, the mid-year review of the Common Humanitarian Action Plan prepared by the United Nations’ agencies in Colombo, paint a grim picture of the civilians.

They have been given armed training, forced to fight in the frontlines and also run the risk of being caught in aerial attacks as well as those by Long Range Reconnaissance Missions (LRRM) carried out by government forces.

“There is no doubt that the government is bombing and shelling people who are prisoners of the LTTE. The young are conscripted in the manner that cattle come of age are taken to the slaughter house,” the UTHR report titled Trauma In The Wanni: Human Grist To The Mills Of Dual Hypocrisy, said.

The UN report also said very much the same thing – “Within the LTTE-controlled areas of the Wanni as well as south into government-controlled areas key factors which are prompting families to move from their homes include the fear of forced conscription, along with regular aerial attacks, shelling and claymore mines.”

The UTHR report has been the most detailed in recent times, given the access constraints into the Wanni and those placed by the Tigers within, on the difficulties faced by the civilians. There has been continuous criticism against the Tigers on forced recruitment and giving arms training to every individual in areas under their control. Only last week Military Spokesperson Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said that all civilians in the Wanni have been imparted basic military training.

Rough estimates are that there are around 200,000 non-combatants in the Wanni though figures maintained by the various Government Agent’s offices in the region quote  higher figures. Of that number close to 100,000 are probably categorised as IDPs.

Deploying civilians

Just before the A9 closed in August 2006, visitors to the Wanni said that the Tigers were deploying members from the civilian units to guard border areas from infiltrations. They were part of the Makkal Paddai or the civilian force and even wore a different uniform. The UTHR report went into details on how far the conscription had taken place.

“LTTE press gangs frequently invade homes before dawn carrying details about the residents, looking for those who have come of conscription age. A boy or girl reaching the age of 17 and failing to report to the LTTE could expect press gangs to turn up within two or three days. Others seen to be suitable are caught on the roads.

“Neither side spares government servants. The Government’s Deep Penetration Unit or their proxies have killed several of them in landmine attacks. A year ago, Killinochchi AGA Nithyananthan was travelling on his motorcycle with his young daughter on the pillion. He was stopped by the LTTE and the girl was taken. Nothing more has since been heard of her,” it said.

Conscripts hope

Adding – “The new conscripts, who hoped against hope that they could escape, are put through brainwashing. Given the political reality of a detested government, most are turned around. Since the LTTE sees the new conscripts as the most likely to attempt escape, they are plainly told, ‘You are here to die for the nation. If you don’t die today, you may die some weeks later. So why not die now?’

“They are encouraged to volunteer for risky operations. Many of those dying on the front lines are the new conscripts – those who join voluntarily now are exceptional. Persons with contacts in the Wanni say in a general way that many of those conscripted in recent times have been killed. To get a very rough idea of the number, a man who knows well a village division in South Wanni having about 200 families, told us that about 25% of those conscripted in recent years have been killed.”

The mathematics

“Assuming there are around 200,000 people or 40,000 families living under LTTE control, it places the number dead in this round of war roughly at the order of 5000. This would be fairly commensurate with other estimates from the Wanni, that about 30% of those conscripted in this round of war are, by now, dead. The qualitative effect of casualties is visible in other ways.

“The injured from the frontlines are taken to the Killinochchi Hospital in buses with black tinted windows. After leaving them for a day, LTTE men come and pick up the ones who are fit to hobble about and take them back for military duties. This means that many placed on the frontlines are not fully fit to fight. Their camps being about 10 miles distance from the front, their food supply is also irregular.”

While the Tigers are only recruiting those above 17 years, those under 16 have been asked to join voluntarily.

The UN report said that displacements have not been as high as feared at the beginning of the year – the total possible case load has been reduced by almost 25% to 230,000 from 300,000.

“Although the situation in the north remains volatile, displacement levels have been lower than anticipated. Planning figures at the beginning of the year put potential displacement at up to 300,000 people, which has been revised down to 230,000. Based on the pattern of current fighting, pockets of people are likely to continue to move both to safer areas within the LTTE-controlled areas of the Wanni as well as south into government-controlled areas,” the report said.

Food issues

Rising food prices have been compounded by access difficulties and food security remains one of biggest concerns for relief agencies. “Food security is likely to deteriorate further as prices continue to rise and the effects of the conflict in the north intensify with likely consequences including increases in under-nutrition rates and household poverty,” the report said.

Funding requirement for food rose from US$ 68 million when the funding requirements were released at the beginning of the year to a staggering US$96 million within six months. Unfortunately only 36% of the requirement or US$34 million, leaving a gap of US$61 million came through. The food requirement is almost half of the revised funding requirements of US$195 million. The second largest, shelter at US$34 million appears smaller in comparison.

Delicate situation

The situation in the Wanni is not only delicately placed but can spiral out of control without much warning. As was the case two weeks back when the threat of mass shortages became very real after the ICRC stayed away from the Omanthai crossover point for six days.

“The priority area for humanitarian relief is now centred on the conflict affected zones of the north where access remains difficult and the number of IDPs has slowly increased during the first five months of 2008, and could rapidly increase at any time. Security concerns, access restrictions and limits on the importation of food, fuel, medicines, equipment and other materials, have made the implementation of relief operations increasingly complex and added to the cost of operations,” the UN report said.

Life in the Wanni

Life in the Wanni is something between outright, fascist repression and a horrid joke gone too far. The LTTE used to be ambivalent about university ragging of the freshers during the 1980s. Sometimes they would oppose ragging, and at other times support it when students opposed to them were against it. The Wanni is one gigantic rag.

For some time after the outbreak of the current round of war in 2006, old men in their late 60s and mid 70s were forced to do home defence training. Men who could barely walk were forced to train, tottering in an attempt to run, carrying poles (made at their expense) as substitutes for guns.

Standing continuously on guard duty was unbearable torture. One septuagenarian got permission from an ‘officer’ to place his bicycle against a tree and rest his back on the seat while on duty. Another ‘officer’ came along and gave him a verbal lashing for resting on the bicycle seat. The practice of forcing elders was later stopped.

Reprisals

Whenever there is news of a LTTE terror attack against civilians in the south, the people in the Wanni prepare for reprisal air force attacks. All functions over the next three days are cancelled. If there is an unexpected bombing raid while a function is going on, unless it is too close to the function, it proceeds amidst explosions.

It appears to people that the LTTE endangers them as a matter of policy. We have recorded that at the beginning of a round of war in 1990, there were instances when the LTTE fired at passing aircraft from a LMG mounted on a vehicle from the vicinity of a refugee camp and sped away. After the recent commencement of war, LTTE vehicles used to be carelessly parked in civilian precincts in the Wanni, and were clearly visible from the air. Fearful of an aerial attack, people repeatedly asked them to park the vehicles under cover.

After ignoring these pleas for a long time, the LTTE now parks them where they do not make targets from the air. Bombing raids are regularly aimed at putative LTTE targets, and predictably follow a military defeat inflicted by the LTTE or a terror attack in the south.

There was a long controversy about the 54 young schoolgirls killed in the aerial bomb attack on a camp in Vallipunam on August 14, 2006 where it was maintained that the girls were receiving first aid training. Residents now confirm that the girls were forcibly taken by the LTTE and the training was of a military nature. This does not however justify the government bombing the school girls.

An aspect of the militarisation and regimentation of life in the Wanni is that persons are allowed to work only if they have a card certifying that they had taken home-defence training. As most work is controlled by the LTTE, full salaries are paid only to those from martyrs’ families – i.e. ones where a member died fighting for the LTTE. The others get half salaries. All able males are forced to do border security duties five days a month or pay Rs.5000 a month for exemption.

Life is unbearable

Life is thus made almost unbearable for those who do not fall in line with the LTTE. For those who do not fully conform, it is very difficult to leave the Wanni even for urgent medical treatment. Consequently the extreme bitterness against the LTTE also expresses itself in willingness to act as saboteurs and to set off landmines provided by the Sri Lanka Army.

The Wanni has intelligence units everywhere. There are intelligence units for education, for distribution of rations and supply, for agriculture, and for photography – all persons are photographed – besides the regular Pottu Amman’s intelligence. The police do their own intelligence work.

If people are heard complaining or saying something that hints at criticism of the regime, often a policemen would walk up to them, warn them not to walk abreast and that if they want to talk they could come to the police station and talk.

There are hardly any services but mainly extortion. The LTTE has virtually taken over all enterprises except those of dhobis (washermen) and barbers. Everyone selling something or doing a service must issue a receipt so that tax could be collected. The combined intelligence services prevent evasion. Receipts must be issued whether it is fixing a punctured bicycle tyre or selling a dried palm leaf pyramidal basket for steaming pittu.

When the LTTE took over houses, and if the owners were lucky enough that the LTTE agreed to return them, they were given huge bills for fictitious ‘improvements.’

Punishment

Another function of intelligence is to prevent people from listening to the Ithayaveenai Tamil programme broadcast by government radio, just as people outside browse TamilNet because they don’t believe the Defence Ministry’s propaganda. The LTTE punishes offenders by sending them to dig bunkers.

The LTTE’s control hinges on poruppalars (persons-in-charge or divisional heads). The official may be in charge of a political, administrative or a security division. They are the virtual maharajahs or fiefs. Many of them live in luxury houses amidst so much drabness and poverty. While ordinary people can hardly afford the highly inflated prices at which the LTTE sells cement, the poruppalars frequently have garden walls with well-shaped black stones. Anyone peeping inside would see a well-maintained garden.

The poruppalars duly acquire the mannerisms showing off their absolute power and the lowliness of anyone else besides them. They grow into the habit of commanding by grunts and a non-vocal economy of gestures, such as thrusting the thumb behind over the shoulder or ordering a person to come by lightly flicking the forefinger.

Of course, the people resent these impositions and curse the plundering poruppalars – peeping, eavesdropping and harassing intelligence officials and LTTE-appointed bureaucrats. But strangely they don’t blame the ‘leader.’ The typical remark is, ‘if only the leader knows what the others do in his name, he will not permit it.’

The LTTE too encourages this game of good cop , bad cop. Similarly there was genuine grief when Tamilselvan was killed in an aerial attack on November 2, 2007. Criticism of the leader is confined to peripheral matters like his marriage to a high-caste girl while denouncing caste. The really grave issues like the thousands of Tamils he has murdered are taboo subjects.

The manner in which the LTTE manipulates Tamils cannot last without the seemingly unyielding malevolence of the government.

– Trauma In The Wanni: Human Grist To The Mills Of Dual Hypocrisy – UTHR (Jaffna) .

(Sunday Leader)

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Sri Lanka’s supposedly most successful Army Commander has spoken. According to General Sarath Fonseka, the Tigers are finished as a conventional army, if not already, certainly by next year. He has also added the caveat that the LTTE will not be totally eliminated and that as an insurgent force it could go on forever, fuelled by Tamil nationalism and bankrolled by Tamil expatriates. As military declarations go, this one was rather cautious and guarded, quite unlike the “Mission Accomplished” bravado that President Bush mouthed off on the Iraq war and has been egg-faced ever since.

Even so, the cautious optimism of Sarath Fonseka is being questioned by objective observers – from the London Economist to Jane’s Defense Weekly (written by Iqbal Athas who appears to have been forced into mute mode in Colombo) among others. The difference between conventional and unconventional modes of war, according to Colonel Hariharan of Chennai, is that firepower is concentrated in the former while in the latter it is unleashed in “penny packets”. It should be obvious to any observer and all sufferers of Eelam wars over the last thirty years that the penny packets of violence have inflicted far greater havoc on our civilian populations and physical resources than the unleashing of concentrated firepower in territorial battlegrounds.

So there are question to be asked of those who make decisions to wage war and who support the war. What has been the net gain to the country in allegedly attenuating the LTTE as a conventional force while admitting that it will continue as unconventional insurgency forever? Are we marking the end of one mode of war while acknowledging the new beginning of an older mode? Are we resigned to being stuck in this vicious circle of wars, or are we mature enough as a people and a country to look for and find a political breakthrough?
Colonel Hariharan, a retired Indian officer who served in the IPKF and now writes highly credible military and political analysis of Sri Lankan affairs, has traced the sources of the LTTE’s conventional and unconventional warfare capabilities. The conventional capability is, says Hariharan, “an acquired skill egged on and abetted by skewed Sri Lankan political priorities and decisions.” The roots and sustenance of the unconventional warfare, on the other hand, are Tamil political grievances.

One dimensional presidency

It is fair to say that the LTTE’s conventional capability came about in spite of India and not because of India, the result of the most skewed of all Sri Lankan political decisions that got rid of the IPKF and frustrated the 13th Amendment. Although Hariharan avoids saying it, India certainly did have more than a hand in the development of the unconventional capability of not just the LTTE but every Tamil militant group that spawned during the 1980s. Arguably, India’s hand in that development was a botched forerunner to the currently controversial R2P paradigm.

Arguably as well, the LTTE’s conventional capability has been overplayed for opposite reasons both by LTTE supporters and their southern detractors. The former, the more loquacious of them, have apparently proclaimed that the matter of Eelam will be decided on the battlefield by the conventional armies of the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government. This assertion is now being used to justify the war efforts of Sri Lanka’s “militarily most successful President.” There could not be a more inadvertent indictment of President Rajapakse by one of his more glamorous beneficiaries – as a one dimensional President! The Economist has no need to be circumspect and has dubbed Rajapakse – ‘the war President.’

The notion of conventional force and possession of territory was used by the LTTE to pretend that it had arrived at the makings of a separate Tamil state and to insist on military parity with the Sri Lankan state. The army’s claim that the LTTE’s conventional capability has been destroyed will be used by the government to pretend that the unitary state has been protected and to insist that there will be no military parity with LTTE as a basis for future negotiations.

General Fonseka’s has gone a lot further and suggested that the LTTE’s conventional capability had to be defeated because the goal of the LTTE is not just to create Tamil Eelam in a part of Sri Lanka but to capture all of Sri Lanka. He apparently vowed: “we will not allow that at any cost, we will fight them.” The truth of the matter is that the LTTE has not been able to make sustainable gains through conventional battles to support anything more than a pretension of a separate sate. Even the occasionally dramatic LTTE battlefield victories have not been cumulatively consequential towards creating Tamil Eelam, let alone capturing the whole of Sri Lanka.

The General and the President appear to have a specific southern political reason to showcase their conventional warfare success. And that is to vindicate everything that they have done in the last three years to negate all the positive efforts of the last twenty (post-13th Amendment) years to address the Tamil and Muslim nationalist grievances. Just as President Premadasa tried to show that he had stood up to India unlike his more socially privileged predecessor (President Jayewardene), President Rajapakse appears to be showing that he is boldly calling the LTTE’s bluff while his Colombo-centric detractors (Kumaratunga and Wickremasinghe) were directly or indirectly appeasing the LTTE.

The upshots of the Premadasa / Rajapakse detours are also equally damning. President Premadasa’s actions contributed to LTTE graduating from an insurgent force to adopting the trappings of a conventional army. The war efforts of President Rajapakse may or may not have put the conventional genie of the LTTE in the bottle, but its unconventional genie, by General Fonseka’s own admission, will haunt Sri Lanka forever.

The only way out of this vicious circle is to stop pretending that Eelam is a serious option and that the unitary constitution is the only basis for a political solution. Equally, it is necessary to start realizing that the matter of Eelam will not be decided in the conventional battlefield or on the basis of military parity, but by enshrining political parity in a new constitutional arrangement and thereby rendering Eelam a redundant demand except for purposes of Tamil nationalist symbolism. This is the crux of our national problem.

And it can be resolved, as Martin McGuinness, the former IRA man turned Northern Ireland politician, said recently, “only at the negotiating table”. He went on to say: “Both the government and the Tamil Tigers believe that they can have more victories over each other possibly in advance of peace negotiations. I have to say, I think both the government and the Tamil Tigers are foolish if they believe that.”

(Hariharan’s Intelligence blog)

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Government is to introduce tough new regulations on mobile phone users requiring them to carry a certificate of ownership and barring them from using phones belonging to others.

Under the new regulations announced by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRC), users would have to carry a letter from the mobile phone provider confirming that the person carrying the phone is the owner of the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module).

All people would be subjected to checks at security check points for the letter of certification provided by the mobile phone operator to prove the ownership of the SIM card. TRC Director General, Priyantha Kariyapperuma said subscribers would be officially informed of the new guidelines with their next bill and the system would be effective thereafter.

Under the new regulation if a subscriber wants to give his phone to be used by another person or transfer the phone, he or she should officially notify the mobile phone service provider.

He said that if this regulation was not followed, the owner of the phone would be penalized. “These regulations are not meant to control the usage of mobile phones, but to ensure national security,” Mr. Kariyapperuma said. New restrictions also have been introduced on the use of CDMA phones. The phones could be used only at the registered address.

Currently the CDMA phones are being used almost similar to mobile phones with people carrying them in their vehicles. However it would be an offence to carry the CDMA phones under the new regulations. There are nine million mobile phone users and one million CDMA phone users in Sri Lanka.

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LTTE commemorates Black Tigers

There is a general agreement amongst observers of the Eelam war that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam took the initiative of the offensive for the greater part of the secessionist war.

The Operation Liberation dubbed Vadamarachchi Operation conducted by Lt Gen Denzil Kobbekaduwa in 1987, Operation Riviresa in 1995 and later Operation Ranagosa had been a few exceptions. Though there were other military operations, Operation Sath Jaya, which captured Kilinochchi and Operation Jayasikuru, for instance, the momentum achieved by the military in those operations was short-lived. The LTTE launched a coordinated counter-attack, the second wave of unceasing waves, thereby reversing military advance. The military pull- back in the face of Unceasing waves was later called the “Wanni debacle” in military parlance.

Chinese philosopher, Sun Tzu said in the world’s oldest military treaties, the Art of War: “If he (enemy) is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.”
“Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”

Military strategy

That has been very much true as far as the military strategy of the LTTE is concerned through out the Eelam war. Yet, the recent developments in the battle front since the break up of the undeclared fourth Eelam war indicates a tilt towards the security forces. The security forces are increasingly dominating the battle front as five offensive Divisions are pushing into the Tiger hinterland on five fronts, forcing the LTTE to defend it on multiple fronts.

By the end of last week, the 57 Division was operating 25 km deep inside the Tiger hinterland ahead of the security forces defence lines in Vavuniya.
Some units of this division were positioned 6 km from Thunukkai, one of the two main population centres on the west of the Alpha 9 road, the other being Mallavi, the former administrative headquarters of the LTTE during the height of the third Eelam war.According to intelligence reports civilians have vacated Thunukkai. These reports could not be verified due to the absence of alternative sources.

The 571 Brigade of this Division is advancing northwards parallel to the North Western Coast. The 572 Brigade is forging ahead in the middle. The 573 Brigade has positioned itself as the eastern flank of the military thrust.
On Friday, troops of this Division captured Naddankandal town located 16 km North East of Periyamadu. On the previous day, troops of Task Force 2 captured Navy, a remote village located 15 km northwest of Omanthai.

The military thrust of the 57 Division is to capture a supply route linking the LTTE forward defence line in Omanthai with Thunukkai.

This B grade road is believed to be the main supply route for the Tiger formations deployed in the Wanni forward defence lines.

The LTTE’s dependence on the A 9 road as a supply route is subjected to constraints due to its high visibility for air attacks. The regular civilian traffic on the A 9 road also hinders its use as a main supply route. This underscores the LTTE’s reliance on this B route which in fact is the life line of its cadres deployed in the forward defence line.

In the Mannar front, the 58 Division is positioned about 3 km from the Sea Tiger camp in Vedithalthivu.

The newly formed Task Force 2 is operating ahead of Mundimurippu. This Division is advancing North Eastward from Mundimurippu. It will also defend the eastern flank of the 57 Division.

In the Weli Oya front, troops of the 59 Division are operating ahead of the original security forces forward defence lines in Janakapura.
The 591 Brigade of this division is pushing towards Thandimuruppu kulam tank. It is believed that the loss of this tank would cut off the water supply to the LTTE, which, would then be compelled to rely on a few isolated deep wells, which are not sufficient to meet the requirement of a large contingent of Tiger cadres.

Another brigade of this division, the 593 Brigade is advancing parallel to the coastal road. There are reports that this area is heavily fortified and that troops are expected to come across a fierce resistance from the defending Tiger cadres.

Last week, we reported of a daring raid carried out by three small teams of the Bravo Company of the second commando Regiment against a fortified Tiger bunker line in the southern perimeters of the Vedithalthivu Sea Tiger camp

The three four-man teams were led by Sergeant Asitha Kumara, Cpl Vanasinghe and Lance Cpl Indika Kumara.

Sergeant Asitha Kumara and Cpl Vanasinghe were killed in action and the commandos were compelled to leave the body of Sergeant Asitha inside the trench when they pulled back after decimating nine bunkers of the LTTE. His body was later handed over to the Army through the ICRC. Sergeant Asitha Perera and his colleague Cpl Vanasinghe have posthumously been promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major and Sergeant respectively.
Lance Cpl Indika Kumara was promoted to the rank of Corporal and recommended for the Weera Vickrema Vibushana gallantry award.

Deployment

Cpl Ariyaratne, who was also killed in the battle after his team was sent for the assistance of the besieged commandos, was also promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Meanwhile, another intake of 203 Army commandos passed out from the Kuda Oya Commando Training School last week.

The deployment of a large number of commandos to provide security for VIPs has resulted in a drain in the elite troops who could otherwise be deployed in the operational duties.

The latest infusion of Commandos would expect to offset these losses.
Meanwhile, a Fourth Battalion is expected to be added to the Special Force. With this new addition, Special Forces would be in a position to function as reinforcement troops on the entire Wanni front. Meanwhile, the LTTE last week commemorated the feared Black Tigers in a series of ceremonies held in the Wanni.

Pictures appeared in the LTTE peace secretariat website depicted Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, accompanied by a group of black Tigers paying homage to the slain Black Tigers in a ceremony held in an undisclosed location.

The first Black Tiger Captain Miller drove an explosive laden truck to the Sri Lankan troops garrisoned at Nelliyadi Central College in Vadamarachchi on July 5, 1987.

Since then, the LTTE has used 356 suicide cadres against the Sri Lankan troops, 254 of them are Black Sea Tigers, according to the information provided by the LTTE itself. Meanwhile, All eyes were on the Wanni front, when a Tiger hit squad ambushed a passenger bus in the deep down south on Friday.

Four passengers were killed and twenty five others were wounded when LTTE cadres opened fire at the passenger bus near Gage on the Buttala-Kataragama road. Passengers said a team of four men shot at the bus as it reached 49th mile post. The bus driver sped through the ambush and drove the vehicle till he reached safety. Two women and one child were among the victims. Another succumbed to injuries after admission to hospital. The latest attack which took place after a lull of several months is indicative that the Tiger cadres who infiltrate the deep down south are still active in the jungles of Yala. Any further attacks in the deep down south by the LTTE would upset the government which is riding high on a popular support for its war effort.

That is exactly the objective of the LTTE, when it dispatches a small group to a remote southern hamlet, which has no strategic importance, other than being part of the President’s pocket borough.

(Lakbima News)

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LTTE commemorates Black Tigers

There is a general agreement amongst observers of the Eelam war that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam took the initiative of the offensive for the greater part of the secessionist war.

The Operation Liberation dubbed Vadamarachchi Operation conducted by Lt Gen Denzil Kobbekaduwa in 1987, Operation Riviresa in 1995 and later Operation Ranagosa had been a few exceptions. Though there were other military operations, Operation Sath Jaya, which captured Kilinochchi and Operation Jayasikuru, for instance, the momentum achieved by the military in those operations was short-lived. The LTTE launched a coordinated counter-attack, the second wave of unceasing waves, thereby reversing military advance. The military pull- back in the face of Unceasing waves was later called the “Wanni debacle” in military parlance.

Chinese philosopher, Sun Tzu said in the world’s oldest military treaties, the Art of War: “If he (enemy) is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.”
“Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”

Military strategy

That has been very much true as far as the military strategy of the LTTE is concerned through out the Eelam war. Yet, the recent developments in the battle front since the break up of the undeclared fourth Eelam war indicates a tilt towards the security forces. The security forces are increasingly dominating the battle front as five offensive Divisions are pushing into the Tiger hinterland on five fronts, forcing the LTTE to defend it on multiple fronts.

By the end of last week, the 57 Division was operating 25 km deep inside the Tiger hinterland ahead of the security forces defence lines in Vavuniya.
Some units of this division were positioned 6 km from Thunukkai, one of the two main population centres on the west of the Alpha 9 road, the other being Mallavi, the former administrative headquarters of the LTTE during the height of the third Eelam war.According to intelligence reports civilians have vacated Thunukkai. These reports could not be verified due to the absence of alternative sources.

The 571 Brigade of this Division is advancing northwards parallel to the North Western Coast. The 572 Brigade is forging ahead in the middle. The 573 Brigade has positioned itself as the eastern flank of the military thrust.
On Friday, troops of this Division captured Naddankandal town located 16 km North East of Periyamadu. On the previous day, troops of Task Force 2 captured Navy, a remote village located 15 km northwest of Omanthai.

The military thrust of the 57 Division is to capture a supply route linking the LTTE forward defence line in Omanthai with Thunukkai.

This B grade road is believed to be the main supply route for the Tiger formations deployed in the Wanni forward defence lines.

The LTTE’s dependence on the A 9 road as a supply route is subjected to constraints due to its high visibility for air attacks. The regular civilian traffic on the A 9 road also hinders its use as a main supply route. This underscores the LTTE’s reliance on this B route which in fact is the life line of its cadres deployed in the forward defence line.

In the Mannar front, the 58 Division is positioned about 3 km from the Sea Tiger camp in Vedithalthivu.

The newly formed Task Force 2 is operating ahead of Mundimurippu. This Division is advancing North Eastward from Mundimurippu. It will also defend the eastern flank of the 57 Division.

In the Weli Oya front, troops of the 59 Division are operating ahead of the original security forces forward defence lines in Janakapura.
The 591 Brigade of this division is pushing towards Thandimuruppu kulam tank. It is believed that the loss of this tank would cut off the water supply to the LTTE, which, would then be compelled to rely on a few isolated deep wells, which are not sufficient to meet the requirement of a large contingent of Tiger cadres.

Another brigade of this division, the 593 Brigade is advancing parallel to the coastal road. There are reports that this area is heavily fortified and that troops are expected to come across a fierce resistance from the defending Tiger cadres.

Last week, we reported of a daring raid carried out by three small teams of the Bravo Company of the second commando Regiment against a fortified Tiger bunker line in the southern perimeters of the Vedithalthivu Sea Tiger camp

The three four-man teams were led by Sergeant Asitha Kumara, Cpl Vanasinghe and Lance Cpl Indika Kumara.

Sergeant Asitha Kumara and Cpl Vanasinghe were killed in action and the commandos were compelled to leave the body of Sergeant Asitha inside the trench when they pulled back after decimating nine bunkers of the LTTE. His body was later handed over to the Army through the ICRC. Sergeant Asitha Perera and his colleague Cpl Vanasinghe have posthumously been promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major and Sergeant respectively.
Lance Cpl Indika Kumara was promoted to the rank of Corporal and recommended for the Weera Vickrema Vibushana gallantry award.

Deployment

Cpl Ariyaratne, who was also killed in the battle after his team was sent for the assistance of the besieged commandos, was also promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Meanwhile, another intake of 203 Army commandos passed out from the Kuda Oya Commando Training School last week.

The deployment of a large number of commandos to provide security for VIPs has resulted in a drain in the elite troops who could otherwise be deployed in the operational duties.

The latest infusion of Commandos would expect to offset these losses.
Meanwhile, a Fourth Battalion is expected to be added to the Special Force. With this new addition, Special Forces would be in a position to function as reinforcement troops on the entire Wanni front. Meanwhile, the LTTE last week commemorated the feared Black Tigers in a series of ceremonies held in the Wanni.

Pictures appeared in the LTTE peace secretariat website depicted Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, accompanied by a group of black Tigers paying homage to the slain Black Tigers in a ceremony held in an undisclosed location.

The first Black Tiger Captain Miller drove an explosive laden truck to the Sri Lankan troops garrisoned at Nelliyadi Central College in Vadamarachchi on July 5, 1987.

Since then, the LTTE has used 356 suicide cadres against the Sri Lankan troops, 254 of them are Black Sea Tigers, according to the information provided by the LTTE itself. Meanwhile, All eyes were on the Wanni front, when a Tiger hit squad ambushed a passenger bus in the deep down south on Friday.

Four passengers were killed and twenty five others were wounded when LTTE cadres opened fire at the passenger bus near Gage on the Buttala-Kataragama road. Passengers said a team of four men shot at the bus as it reached 49th mile post. The bus driver sped through the ambush and drove the vehicle till he reached safety. Two women and one child were among the victims. Another succumbed to injuries after admission to hospital. The latest attack which took place after a lull of several months is indicative that the Tiger cadres who infiltrate the deep down south are still active in the jungles of Yala. Any further attacks in the deep down south by the LTTE would upset the government which is riding high on a popular support for its war effort.

That is exactly the objective of the LTTE, when it dispatches a small group to a remote southern hamlet, which has no strategic importance, other than being part of the President’s pocket borough.

(Lakbima News)

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