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Archive for October 11th, 2007

While consolidating its gains, the military is steadily ‘pegging away’ at the Tigers’ ‘resources’ to weaken its resolve

The army, which controls the A-14 Road from Medawachchiya to Mannar, has tried to penetrate the Wanni from various points west of the A-9 Road along the Omanthai–Vavuniya stretch. It happened at Thirukeswaram, Andankulam, and west of Giant’s Tank, Periyamadu, Palampiddi, Vilattikulam, Pokkaravanni, Iranai Illuppaikkulam, Periyathampanai and Thampanai. The LTTE has struck back hard, forcing the military to flee in most instances.

Two months back, on August 5, Senpathi made a pertinent observation: “With the Wanni waiting to flare up and the buildup already reported previously, the question is which side would take the initiative? The LTTE has two options, either to dig in with a formidable defence or, pre-empt with a strike.”

With the Wanni flaring up with battle after battle, during the past fortnight, we now have the benefit of hindsight to say which side actually took the initiative.
The Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) quoting unnamed sources yesterday said: “Troops have effectively neutralised successive LTTE attempts to advance into military defence lines separating non liberated Wanni area.”

Midweek, intense fighting erupted west of Omantai at Vilattikulam, when a limited operation was organized by the 57 offensive Division headed by Brig. Jagath Dias, who took over exactly two months back. (His predecessor, Sumith Manawadu, was transferred days after the 57 Brigade at Kalmadu army camp, came under LTTE artillery fire and the military base of the 16th Battalion of the Artillery Regiment at Pompaimadu, west of Vavuniya, came under attack on June 2).

There was a major reshuffle within the command structure in the Wanni and Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya who took over as Security Forces Commander (SFC) Wanni five weeks back, coordinated the latest operations.

The Vilattikulam operation that lasted till the following morning- Thursday, was undertaken by the 6th Battalion of the Vijayaba Regiment (VR) under Maj. Sisira Pilapitiya assisted by the 8th Battalion of the Gajaba Regiment (GR) and the 4th Battalion of the VR.

Troops advanced toward the LTTE stronghold, captured a mortar base, a communication centre and several bunkers. Meanwhile, the 4th Battalion of the Sinha Regiment under Col. G.S. Welikalage, assisted by the 9th Battalion of the GR fought for the LTTE stronghold in Pokkravanni, where LTTE Maj. Jeyam was killed in the attack.
In the recent fighting, 19 soldiers including 14 from the 9 GR were wounded in action (wia), two soldiers including Capt. Soysa were killed in action (kia) and another three, were classified missing in action (mia).

According to intercepted LTTE messages, the Tigers’ head of administration in the area, Solan, who was in charge of supplies to the Forward Defence Lines (FDL), was killed when a cab carrying Tiger cadres exploded. A tractor carrying supplies to Tigers was also destroyed by the army.

So, it appears, the LTTE has taken the first option. It has dug in with a formidable defence and responded in the face of the military offensives.

Attack and Retreat.
During the past couple of months, the military had launched lightning operations from a dozen places in the Wanni. But, it has not been all that successful in penetrating this jungle terrain. At most points, the Tigers that had to flee the east, over several months, until Thoppigala, the last bastion fell, have joined in the defence.
What is more, the LTTE has struck back hard, forcing the military to flee in most instances. It hit back with a barrage of mortar fire and rained artillery shells on the targets. The Tigers also used direct fire to push back the military’s FDLs that had advanced in some places.
The military, which controls the A-14 Road from Medawachchiya to Mannar, has tried to penetrate the Wanni from various points west of the A-9 Road along the Omanthai–Vavuniya stretch. It happened at Thirukeswaram, Andankulam, and west of Giant’s Tank, Periyamadu, Palampiddi, Vilattikulam, Pokkaravanni, Iranai Illuppaikkulam, Periyathampanai and Thampanai among other places.
The military claims it ended up killing dozens of Tigers and destroying enemy bunkers in the ensuing confrontations. In clashes on Friday at Navathkulam and Periyathampane areas, it claimed two Tiger were killed and six others wounded, while four soldiers were also injured.
Nine LTTE cadres were reportedly killed this week in an attack west of Thampane, but MCNS says 16 Tigers were killed and the bodies of four were recovered. A fortnight back, on September 22, a Capt. and two soldiers died and 22 wounded in a battle in Thampane that lasted several hours and went late into the night.
Operations west of the Giant’s Tank in Mannar, have been more frequent. They were undertaken by the Commando Brigade and the STF. Several LTTE bunkers were destroyed, while troops advanced about a kilometer into LTTE territory. However, troops under Capt. Pandita, had to face Tiger mortar fire that injured the officer and two soldiers. Maj. Sarada Samarakoon of the10th Battalion GR, along with the second commando Brigade, advanced up to the LTTE FDLs and destroyed seven Tiger bunkers last week, according to claims. The military also claims that 35 Tigers were killed and 40 more wounded in the confrontations on Wednesday and Thursday, mainly in the area northwest of the Giant Tank. There was no independent confirmation of the casualties.
The main aim of the military is to penetrate the first FDL along the Vidattaltivu-Periyamadu-Mundurmurippu-Puliyayankulam-Marutodai axis from West to East in the Mannar and Vavuniya districts.
Consolidating gains
The military admits that the LTTE has increased its numbers in Vidattaltivu area, where a civilian influx has been observed.
To enter the Mullaitivu district, there is another FDL along the Kannadi-Iramiyankulam-Naddankandal-Kummakulam-Kanakarayankulam axis. Still further up north, there is the Mankulam, Olumadu Oddusudan axis secured by the Tigers in 1999. These bases are located by the main highway that leads to the strategic Elephant Pass complex, the gateway to the northern peninsula. In 2000, the LTTE went for the big kill and overran the Elephant Pass base. Smaller camps such as Nedunkerni, Kanagarayanakulam and Ampagamam, to name a few were also overrun in 1999. While attacking Oddusudan and Mankulan, they took on Weli Oya and overran Puliyankulam and Gajabapura eight-years-ago.
This week, during a confrontation in the Weli Oya area, three Tigers, including an area leader identified as Kalivanan, were killed in counter attacks at Kiriibban Wewa, raising fears whether a third front was likely to open. As the Mannar operations appear to be time consuming, it is unclear whether a front is to be opened up in Weli Oya, where the Tigers, several months ago, said there was a military buildup.
The military claims that the Tigers staged the attack at the Kiriibban Wewa.
Weli Oya has been identified as a vulnerable area with the LTTE possibly eyeing this place, to begin its strike. But, it has to make sure it succeeds.
The Weli Oya Command also changed hands from Maj. Gen. Nimal Jayasuriya to Brig. M.K. Jayawardena. At the time Jayasuriya took over Weli Oya, there was no FDL between Padaviya and Kebethhigollewa, which was attacked twice last year.
As the military had identified Weli Oya as a probable target of the Tigers, Gen. Jayasuriya had a 25-km bunker line constructed to prevent raids on villages in Weli Oya. A stretch of five-km of no man’s land between Kokkutuduvai, almost on the east coast, and Janakapura, was a tactical disadvantage to the army. The former Weli Oya commander had a fortified bunker line built linking Janakapura.
On Tuesday (02) security forces launched an attack and destroyed an LTTE boat after detecting a cluster of Tiger boats, in the seas off Kokkuthudai in Pulmudai. The battle between security forces and sea tigers which lasted nearly three hours ended around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday (03). The forces used heavy artillery, mortar and small arms to launch the attack on the cluster of boats.
On the A-9 Road, the army has been restricted to Omantai, far below Puliyankulam. The entry-exit point on this road to the south, is at Omantai and the north at Muhamalai, which along with the Kilali-Nagarkovil axis, still appears impregnable on either side.
The 8th Battalion VR attacked LTTE’s Nargakovil FDL this week and destroyed several bunkers, after an attempt last week did not bring in the desired results. Ten LTTE cadres were killed and about 20 injured in Nagarkovil, while two soldiers were killed during a confrontation again this week on the Kilali FDLs. In attacks the previous week at Kilali, the military claimed that 20 Tigers were killed, as against two soldiers, but the Tigers admitted the deaths of four Tigers and an unknown number of soldiers from the 4th Battalion of the Sri Lanka Light Infantry. Last week too, there were attacks at Muhamalai and the trend appears to be frequent lighting attacks to weaken the Tigers, but the status quo on the ground remains and any area secured eventually, had to be conceded. Military, officials and the army top brass repeated ad nauseum, that taking control of real estate was not their intention.
Then, what is the military gain, we may ask?
Gnawing away at the Tigers
As we see it, it is a war of attrition or at least, such a phase, the military is currently engaged in. Destroying Tiger bunkers has been another strategy employed by the military in its recent limited offensives. In the process, it is only logical that the military sustains losses in the north and the Wanni. In the East, there were lesser casualties and the Tigers withdrew to fight another day, and that is in the Wanni.
It its cold calculation of decimating the Tigers, the military may be blind to the fact that if the Tigers hold out till a change of regime, to recruit, it would state how the LTTE survived arguably, one of the most ferocious phases of the war. The undeclared ‘Eelam War IV’ most certainly, has surpassed the previous one in terms of the concerted efforts of the three forces, skills and tactics employed, the use of artillery, mortar and multi barrel fire, intelligence gathering, support from the ‘Karuna’ group, that almost divided the LTTE into a Wanni and the eastern faction.
Surviving such an onslaught, is enough propaganda for the Tigers to recruit both here and in Tamil Nadu.
So, it is obvious why the LTTE has not taken the second option and initiated attacks, not only in the Wanni but, along the Kilali-Muhamali-Nagarkovil axis?
The LTTE cannot afford to initiate an attack, unless it is sure to succeed? The result of the major attack the Tigers initiated in Muttur and the provocation made in Mavil Aru, is too widely known here and among the diaspora. The August 11 Muhamalai attack staged by the baby brigade and followed by the specialized Charles Anthony Brigade was also a disaster. Not even the Kilali offensive, including the boat landing by Sea Tigers, could make material difference. It was a failed attempt with a capital F.
No wonder then, that LTTE Political Wing Leader, in mid September, said, “The LTTE is maintaining patience and still restricting itself to a defensive war.”
Tigers dig in
The military, however, can afford to take chances, as it has the success story in the “East” to brag about. Nevertheless, the military cannot afford to lose a major battle in terms of territory, casualties or loss of equipment. The October 11 debacle in Muhamalai, in terms of casualties reported and equipment lost, is a grim reminder of the many conventional battles previously lost.
Hence, the recent offensives are lightning attacks by small groups, to limit the loss in terms of casualties.
So, at this rate, it is estimated that the military would take another three to four years to succeed, given that the Tigers are well entrenched and have the added advantage of familiarity with the terrain.
As we said last week, the modus operandi of the security forces was likely to succeed in the Mannar region via the Wanni. We are not denying that the military would eventually succeed, but it would be at such a slow pace that political developments were likely to overtake the military gains.
Political developments are also shaped by economic considerations, and the military would find it difficult to sustain its campaign financially.
LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is a master at the game of a protracted struggle and as we said before, has outlived the tenures of governments here, in India and will soon do so in America.
Even if there were to be a change of government, the military has changed the balance of power in the new government’s favour. Having wrested control of the East, the new dispensation, if it intends commencing peace talks, will be able to do so from a position of strength. Contrast this with the UNF’s previous unenviable position in December 2001, with the East also under the Tigers’ belt and the air force depleted, having lost some of its fighters.
The air force has wreaked havoc in this ‘Eelam War IV’, taking on Tiger assets week after week. Repeated attacks staged by fighter jets in Vashvamadu beyond Pudurippu, over a fortnight, have had a huge effect on the LTTE. Where the army is unable to penetrate in the Mullaitivu district, the air force has been pounding sensitive areas. It is reliably understood that bunker buster bombs are also used to target underground facilities.
Naturally, the Tigers who called the shots and negotiated from a vantage position at that time, were able to secure ‘a federal solution.’ The UNP’s recent dropping of the word “federalism”, is a tacit recognition of the military achievements on the ground, sea and air.
If the LTTE refuses to talk peace, which is the likely scenario, as it does not talk from a position of weakness, the alternative might be to continue the war. The military will not agree to a change in the ground situation. Hence, one reason cited by the UNP for this change was a change in the military situation on the ground.

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Vavuniya Security Forces (SF) Commander, Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya shares exclusive comments with The Bottom Line.

Within a period of two weeks, the Army has killed 172 LTTE cadres, and wounded more than 80, Vavuniya Security Forces (SF) Commander, Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, told The Bottom Line, in an exclusive interview. “This count was ascertained by intercepting LTTE communication, as well as observations by our troops. At the same time, the Army lost eight, including 2 officers, with 22 soldiers wounded.”

The bodies of Captain Zoysa of the 6 Vijayaba Regiment and Captain Alagiyawathha of the 10 Ceylon Light Infantry who were missing in action, were later handed over to the Army, via the ICRC, while the Army handed over 4 LTTE bodies to the ICRC.

“Compared with the LTTE death toll and wounded, the Army figure is much less,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Jayasuriya was adjutant to the late Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwe, Commanding Officer of the 1st Armoured Corp in the Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya regions. This region came under the purview of Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya

“My Division Commanders and I (57 Division Commander Brig. Jagath Dias of the Gajaba Regiment, 56 Division Brig. Jagath Rambukpotha of the Artillery Regiment, First Task Force Commander Brig. Charlie Gallage, who is also Brigade Commander of the Commandos and Special Forces Brigade Commander Colonel Nirmal Dharmarathne) have done and continue to implement counter LTTE tactics and strategies.

“I can’t disclose military plans because military plans are top secret.

“When we implement our tactics and strategies, the LTTE was surprised and they will be surprised in the future too. I wont’ allow them to relax.” “At the moment we are conducting our operations in west of Madhu and west of Omanthi, but we keep changing our military plans. We destroyed several LTTE bunkers and we cut off supply routes of the LTTE”

Asking him about the LTTE stronghold in north Mannar, Vidattalthivu, Kaddaddi and A-32 road, he said “the army received accurate intelligence in those LTTE areas and Artillery and MBRL targets were accurately taken. We will be attacking them in the future.

They attacked and continue to attack troops with 122mm Artillery and 80 and 81 mm mortars. Mainly due to this artillery fire, our troops suffered causalities.

Finally, I asked the Ma. Gen. that his target is not a cake walk, because his troops battle terrorists in the jungle. He replied “I will make it a cake walk and my officers and soldiers are trained for jungle warfare and they are skillful officers and soldiers. I am confident of my officers and soldiers and we do have good leadership as well.”

A soldier who was wounded in a mortar attack, returned to the battlefront, after his wounds healed. He didn’t want to declare his name. I asked him why he returned to the battlefront and he said, “We are heading into the last den of the terrorists. I want to be a part and parcel of this historical victory.”

His fellow soldier told me that he welcomed his colleague who showed great determination and courage with a hug and teased him and asked what he brought them from home to eat.

On 8th morning, around 8:30 a.m., in Mannar, the LTTE tried to infiltrate the FDLs in Mannar in north Uliankulam. Vigilant soldiers attacked the LTTE cadres and killed 2 cadres on the spot.

Under heavy fire from the army, the rest of the LTTE cadres fled. In a separate incident, on the same day, troops on a search operation, discovered an underground bunker in Vilattikulam, used for weapons storage, and recovered 46 nos. 82 mm mortars, 23 nos. 60mm mortars, 6,300 rounds of T-56 ammunition and 26 anti personnel mines.

In Vavuniya, Pokkaravant, the army unearthed 600 anti personnel mines. In Jaffna, on the afternoon of 7th and 8th, the LTTE attacked the Muhamalaie FDL with 81mm mortars. The army retaliated.

Brigade commander of 552 Brigade were ordered to dismantle the LTTE mortar position. The Brigade Commander selected soldiers and sent them to attack the LTTE FDL during the night using RPG (rocket propel grenades), grenade launchers and small arms which surprised the LTTE. The troops destroyed six LTTE bunkers. According to LTTE radio transmissions, 6 LTTE cadres died and more than 12 wounded.

On September 25, there was a rehersal of an LTTE passing out parade in Pooneryn. On information of this event Air Force and Army launched an attack and caused heavy casualties.

Recruitment Drive

During this year the army recruited 25,000 soldiers and 75 officer cadets. The army commander gave instructions that all recruits have to train and go through the full training period.

The Army hopes to increase the elite special force to 5000. The STF continued its operation in the thick jungles of Ampara. STF Commandant DIG Nimal Lewke said that the LTTE had exploded a mine targeting STF personnel. As a result one STF member died while two were injured.

DIG Nimal Lewke said “troops marching deep inside the jungle, the main obstacle is antipersonnel mines. The STF defused 524 antipersonnel mines and he further said there are less than 60 LTTE cadres and they divide in to small groups. We are hunting them”

The Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) sank the 10th LTTE ship 800 nautical miles south of Dondra Head, early morning today, SLN spokesman Commander D.K.P. Dadanayake said. The Commander further said that the Sri Lanka Navy received credible intelligence information and their attack ships SLNS Sagara, SLNS Saura and SLNS Saranimala sailed south on October 1, detected the ship on radar and sailed close to the suspected ship.

Early morning on October 7, around 5:30 am, the Navy ships sighted the suspected ship and noticed that it hadn’t hoisted any flag. The ship with the name MV Matshusima was 70 metres in length. The Navy communicated with the ship on the international communication channel 16, but there wasn’t any response. Instead of radio contact, the LTTE cadres on board, fired with medium-calibre guns at the SLN ship. The Navy retaliated. The battle lasted nearly 3 hours, and at 9:30 am the LTTE ship was sunk. The LTTE ship had onboard water scooters (used for suicide missions), 153 Artillery, GPS, radars, electronic equipment used to monitor Armed Forces communication. The Navy received information that two senior LTTE cadres were onboard.

The SLN has, beyond any doubt, proved its talent and capabilities. One of the officers engaged in the battle, said ‘Sri Lanka Navy is no more a brown water Navy, we are a blue water Navy. Though we badly lack resources, we accomplished our mission and we will do so in the future. We are committed and dedicated to our task.

On October 9 Sri Lanka Air Force MiG jets bombed LTTE military installation early in the morning.

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Vavuniya Security Forces (SF) Commander, Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya shares exclusive comments with The Bottom Line.

Within a period of two weeks, the Army has killed 172 LTTE cadres, and wounded more than 80, Vavuniya Security Forces (SF) Commander, Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, told The Bottom Line, in an exclusive interview. “This count was ascertained by intercepting LTTE communication, as well as observations by our troops. At the same time, the Army lost eight, including 2 officers, with 22 soldiers wounded.”

The bodies of Captain Zoysa of the 6 Vijayaba Regiment and Captain Alagiyawathha of the 10 Ceylon Light Infantry who were missing in action, were later handed over to the Army, via the ICRC, while the Army handed over 4 LTTE bodies to the ICRC.

“Compared with the LTTE death toll and wounded, the Army figure is much less,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Jayasuriya was adjutant to the late Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwe, Commanding Officer of the 1st Armoured Corp in the Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya regions. This region came under the purview of Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya

“My Division Commanders and I (57 Division Commander Brig. Jagath Dias of the Gajaba Regiment, 56 Division Brig. Jagath Rambukpotha of the Artillery Regiment, First Task Force Commander Brig. Charlie Gallage, who is also Brigade Commander of the Commandos and Special Forces Brigade Commander Colonel Nirmal Dharmarathne) have done and continue to implement counter LTTE tactics and strategies.

“I can’t disclose military plans because military plans are top secret.

“When we implement our tactics and strategies, the LTTE was surprised and they will be surprised in the future too. I wont’ allow them to relax.” “At the moment we are conducting our operations in west of Madhu and west of Omanthi, but we keep changing our military plans. We destroyed several LTTE bunkers and we cut off supply routes of the LTTE”

Asking him about the LTTE stronghold in north Mannar, Vidattalthivu, Kaddaddi and A-32 road, he said “the army received accurate intelligence in those LTTE areas and Artillery and MBRL targets were accurately taken. We will be attacking them in the future.

They attacked and continue to attack troops with 122mm Artillery and 80 and 81 mm mortars. Mainly due to this artillery fire, our troops suffered causalities.

Finally, I asked the Ma. Gen. that his target is not a cake walk, because his troops battle terrorists in the jungle. He replied “I will make it a cake walk and my officers and soldiers are trained for jungle warfare and they are skillful officers and soldiers. I am confident of my officers and soldiers and we do have good leadership as well.”

A soldier who was wounded in a mortar attack, returned to the battlefront, after his wounds healed. He didn’t want to declare his name. I asked him why he returned to the battlefront and he said, “We are heading into the last den of the terrorists. I want to be a part and parcel of this historical victory.”

His fellow soldier told me that he welcomed his colleague who showed great determination and courage with a hug and teased him and asked what he brought them from home to eat.

On 8th morning, around 8:30 a.m., in Mannar, the LTTE tried to infiltrate the FDLs in Mannar in north Uliankulam. Vigilant soldiers attacked the LTTE cadres and killed 2 cadres on the spot.

Under heavy fire from the army, the rest of the LTTE cadres fled. In a separate incident, on the same day, troops on a search operation, discovered an underground bunker in Vilattikulam, used for weapons storage, and recovered 46 nos. 82 mm mortars, 23 nos. 60mm mortars, 6,300 rounds of T-56 ammunition and 26 anti personnel mines.

In Vavuniya, Pokkaravant, the army unearthed 600 anti personnel mines. In Jaffna, on the afternoon of 7th and 8th, the LTTE attacked the Muhamalaie FDL with 81mm mortars. The army retaliated.

Brigade commander of 552 Brigade were ordered to dismantle the LTTE mortar position. The Brigade Commander selected soldiers and sent them to attack the LTTE FDL during the night using RPG (rocket propel grenades), grenade launchers and small arms which surprised the LTTE. The troops destroyed six LTTE bunkers. According to LTTE radio transmissions, 6 LTTE cadres died and more than 12 wounded.

On September 25, there was a rehersal of an LTTE passing out parade in Pooneryn. On information of this event Air Force and Army launched an attack and caused heavy casualties.

Recruitment Drive

During this year the army recruited 25,000 soldiers and 75 officer cadets. The army commander gave instructions that all recruits have to train and go through the full training period.

The Army hopes to increase the elite special force to 5000. The STF continued its operation in the thick jungles of Ampara. STF Commandant DIG Nimal Lewke said that the LTTE had exploded a mine targeting STF personnel. As a result one STF member died while two were injured.

DIG Nimal Lewke said “troops marching deep inside the jungle, the main obstacle is antipersonnel mines. The STF defused 524 antipersonnel mines and he further said there are less than 60 LTTE cadres and they divide in to small groups. We are hunting them”

The Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) sank the 10th LTTE ship 800 nautical miles south of Dondra Head, early morning today, SLN spokesman Commander D.K.P. Dadanayake said. The Commander further said that the Sri Lanka Navy received credible intelligence information and their attack ships SLNS Sagara, SLNS Saura and SLNS Saranimala sailed south on October 1, detected the ship on radar and sailed close to the suspected ship.

Early morning on October 7, around 5:30 am, the Navy ships sighted the suspected ship and noticed that it hadn’t hoisted any flag. The ship with the name MV Matshusima was 70 metres in length. The Navy communicated with the ship on the international communication channel 16, but there wasn’t any response. Instead of radio contact, the LTTE cadres on board, fired with medium-calibre guns at the SLN ship. The Navy retaliated. The battle lasted nearly 3 hours, and at 9:30 am the LTTE ship was sunk. The LTTE ship had onboard water scooters (used for suicide missions), 153 Artillery, GPS, radars, electronic equipment used to monitor Armed Forces communication. The Navy received information that two senior LTTE cadres were onboard.

The SLN has, beyond any doubt, proved its talent and capabilities. One of the officers engaged in the battle, said ‘Sri Lanka Navy is no more a brown water Navy, we are a blue water Navy. Though we badly lack resources, we accomplished our mission and we will do so in the future. We are committed and dedicated to our task.

On October 9 Sri Lanka Air Force MiG jets bombed LTTE military installation early in the morning.

Read Full Post »

Vavuniya Security Forces (SF) Commander, Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya shares exclusive comments with The Bottom Line.

Within a period of two weeks, the Army has killed 172 LTTE cadres, and wounded more than 80, Vavuniya Security Forces (SF) Commander, Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, told The Bottom Line, in an exclusive interview. “This count was ascertained by intercepting LTTE communication, as well as observations by our troops. At the same time, the Army lost eight, including 2 officers, with 22 soldiers wounded.”

The bodies of Captain Zoysa of the 6 Vijayaba Regiment and Captain Alagiyawathha of the 10 Ceylon Light Infantry who were missing in action, were later handed over to the Army, via the ICRC, while the Army handed over 4 LTTE bodies to the ICRC.

“Compared with the LTTE death toll and wounded, the Army figure is much less,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Jayasuriya was adjutant to the late Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwe, Commanding Officer of the 1st Armoured Corp in the Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya regions. This region came under the purview of Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya

“My Division Commanders and I (57 Division Commander Brig. Jagath Dias of the Gajaba Regiment, 56 Division Brig. Jagath Rambukpotha of the Artillery Regiment, First Task Force Commander Brig. Charlie Gallage, who is also Brigade Commander of the Commandos and Special Forces Brigade Commander Colonel Nirmal Dharmarathne) have done and continue to implement counter LTTE tactics and strategies.

“I can’t disclose military plans because military plans are top secret.

“When we implement our tactics and strategies, the LTTE was surprised and they will be surprised in the future too. I wont’ allow them to relax.” “At the moment we are conducting our operations in west of Madhu and west of Omanthi, but we keep changing our military plans. We destroyed several LTTE bunkers and we cut off supply routes of the LTTE”

Asking him about the LTTE stronghold in north Mannar, Vidattalthivu, Kaddaddi and A-32 road, he said “the army received accurate intelligence in those LTTE areas and Artillery and MBRL targets were accurately taken. We will be attacking them in the future.

They attacked and continue to attack troops with 122mm Artillery and 80 and 81 mm mortars. Mainly due to this artillery fire, our troops suffered causalities.

Finally, I asked the Ma. Gen. that his target is not a cake walk, because his troops battle terrorists in the jungle. He replied “I will make it a cake walk and my officers and soldiers are trained for jungle warfare and they are skillful officers and soldiers. I am confident of my officers and soldiers and we do have good leadership as well.”

A soldier who was wounded in a mortar attack, returned to the battlefront, after his wounds healed. He didn’t want to declare his name. I asked him why he returned to the battlefront and he said, “We are heading into the last den of the terrorists. I want to be a part and parcel of this historical victory.”

His fellow soldier told me that he welcomed his colleague who showed great determination and courage with a hug and teased him and asked what he brought them from home to eat.

On 8th morning, around 8:30 a.m., in Mannar, the LTTE tried to infiltrate the FDLs in Mannar in north Uliankulam. Vigilant soldiers attacked the LTTE cadres and killed 2 cadres on the spot.

Under heavy fire from the army, the rest of the LTTE cadres fled. In a separate incident, on the same day, troops on a search operation, discovered an underground bunker in Vilattikulam, used for weapons storage, and recovered 46 nos. 82 mm mortars, 23 nos. 60mm mortars, 6,300 rounds of T-56 ammunition and 26 anti personnel mines.

In Vavuniya, Pokkaravant, the army unearthed 600 anti personnel mines. In Jaffna, on the afternoon of 7th and 8th, the LTTE attacked the Muhamalaie FDL with 81mm mortars. The army retaliated.

Brigade commander of 552 Brigade were ordered to dismantle the LTTE mortar position. The Brigade Commander selected soldiers and sent them to attack the LTTE FDL during the night using RPG (rocket propel grenades), grenade launchers and small arms which surprised the LTTE. The troops destroyed six LTTE bunkers. According to LTTE radio transmissions, 6 LTTE cadres died and more than 12 wounded.

On September 25, there was a rehersal of an LTTE passing out parade in Pooneryn. On information of this event Air Force and Army launched an attack and caused heavy casualties.

Recruitment Drive

During this year the army recruited 25,000 soldiers and 75 officer cadets. The army commander gave instructions that all recruits have to train and go through the full training period.

The Army hopes to increase the elite special force to 5000. The STF continued its operation in the thick jungles of Ampara. STF Commandant DIG Nimal Lewke said that the LTTE had exploded a mine targeting STF personnel. As a result one STF member died while two were injured.

DIG Nimal Lewke said “troops marching deep inside the jungle, the main obstacle is antipersonnel mines. The STF defused 524 antipersonnel mines and he further said there are less than 60 LTTE cadres and they divide in to small groups. We are hunting them”

The Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) sank the 10th LTTE ship 800 nautical miles south of Dondra Head, early morning today, SLN spokesman Commander D.K.P. Dadanayake said. The Commander further said that the Sri Lanka Navy received credible intelligence information and their attack ships SLNS Sagara, SLNS Saura and SLNS Saranimala sailed south on October 1, detected the ship on radar and sailed close to the suspected ship.

Early morning on October 7, around 5:30 am, the Navy ships sighted the suspected ship and noticed that it hadn’t hoisted any flag. The ship with the name MV Matshusima was 70 metres in length. The Navy communicated with the ship on the international communication channel 16, but there wasn’t any response. Instead of radio contact, the LTTE cadres on board, fired with medium-calibre guns at the SLN ship. The Navy retaliated. The battle lasted nearly 3 hours, and at 9:30 am the LTTE ship was sunk. The LTTE ship had onboard water scooters (used for suicide missions), 153 Artillery, GPS, radars, electronic equipment used to monitor Armed Forces communication. The Navy received information that two senior LTTE cadres were onboard.

The SLN has, beyond any doubt, proved its talent and capabilities. One of the officers engaged in the battle, said ‘Sri Lanka Navy is no more a brown water Navy, we are a blue water Navy. Though we badly lack resources, we accomplished our mission and we will do so in the future. We are committed and dedicated to our task.

On October 9 Sri Lanka Air Force MiG jets bombed LTTE military installation early in the morning.

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Sri Lankans in Colombo are puzzled over the whereabouts of Shanmugan Kumaran Tharmalingam (aka Kumaran Pathmanathan), chief procurer of arms of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The Sri Lankan defence ministry website stated that “reliable sources from Thailand reveal that LTTE’s chief for cross-border terrorist activities, Kumaran Padmanathan, alias KP, has been arrested in Bangkok on 10 September.”

However, Thai authorities dismissed the report, saying they were not aware of the arrest, if any was made. And Thai police told the media that a thorough check showed that the last time it arrested any LTTE member was in 2003, and he was extradited to Sri Lanka on 15 August, 2007.

The local newspapers in the teardrop-shaped island in the Indian Ocean are awash with speculation of KP’s supposed disappearance while in Thai custody.
The latest, by the main opposition United National Party, alleged that the Sri Lanka government had facilitated his release as it had a pre-presidential poll deal between the President and the LTTE.

KP is some sort of an enigma in the conflict-ravaged country where the government is engaged in a two-decade-long military operation to tame the Tigers fighting for a separate homeland and who control areas of the north.

“He is a master of disguise,” said Rauff Hakeem, Sri Lanka’s posts and telecommunications minister who shared iftar delicacies with me at his Colombo residence. However, Rauff, who is the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader, said he was not aware of KP’s present whereabouts.

According to F Rovik, who is a lawyer with R-Senter, a Norwegian human rights organisation, KP travels widely “with more than 20 passports to his name, and possessing the ability to pass himself off as a middle-class Tamil.”
It is believed the 52-year-old Sri Lankan, who is the second most wanted man in Sri Lanka (number one is LTTE supremo Velupillai Pirabhakaran), has obtained Thai citizenship and is married to a Thai woman.

In India, he is wanted for his alleged role in prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991.

There is no surprise in Sri Lanka that KP’s supposed detention is in Thailand as the LTTE has a colourful existence in the kingdom, which is about 2,200 km from northern Sri Lanka.

For example, when the Phuket Marine Police arrested LTTE agent Christy Reginold Lawrence on 9 April, 2000, he led them to his shipyard where they found a half-built mini submarine, which could accommodate two to three people.
The Sri Lanka government revealed that it was similar to a submarine it seized from the LTTE in Jaffna in the early 1990s.

The Tigers, Rovik noted, have been active in Thailand for two decades, using the country to acquire weapons and train cadres and as a transit point for weapons smuggling.

“LTTE has established several front companies and has a broad net of contacts in shipping, military and the police as well as among arms dealers. The front companies include shipping companies, trading firms, restaurants and hotels,” he wrote in a published report Peace in Sri Lanka: Obstacles and Opportunities.

Rovik wrote that Thailand’s long coastline, porous borders, modern infrastructure, corrupt officials and a history of gun-running since regional conflicts of the 1950s, make it an ideal location for weapons traders and buyers.

“Experts say that some of the arms sold in Thailand are rusty leftovers from the Cambodian conflict, but brand new weapons are also freely available, either smuggled from China or obtained illegally from legal manufactures,” he noted.
“There are more than 10,000 trawlers and other vessels roaming the Thai seas, making it difficult to monitor weapons smuggling.”

He added that the Tigers’ front companies and sympathisers in Bangkok had an extensive logistics network.

“Munitions have moved not only through Phuket but also Ranong and Krabi on the Andaman coast, as well as Sattaship on the Gulf of Thailand,” he pointed out.
However, Rovik said LTTE had very limited support, if any, among Thai politicians or the public in general.

“The fact that they have operated in Thailand for so long is purely due to corruption and liberal Thai policies,” he explained.

Whether Thai policies are liberal or not, the fact is KP remains as elusive as ever.

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There was extensive news coverage of Shanmugan Kumaran Tharmalingam (a.k.a Kumaran Pathmanathan and KP), chief procurer of arms of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is based in Thailand and that he has been arrested by the Thai authorities.

The credible news of his presence in Thailand has not been reported so far. The LTTE uses Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia as its main operating hub and extensive network of clandestine operations are carried out using Singapore as its financial centre.

All the activities are commanded by KP who is on the move all the time between the hub countries. Some of the Malaysian based LTTE activists who are said to be professionals give valuable support to legitimise the nefarious deeds of the clandestine activities of the Tamil Tigers in the area. A Sri Lankan lawyer Pasupathy based in Malaysia is confirmed to be the head of professionals working under KP.

KP’s activities further stretches to the renounced pariah state of President Mugabe i.e., Zimbabwe, where he is able move-about without any difficulties. He is said to be travelling between Cambodia, Thailand and Zimbabwe under false names and identity. Cambodia is said to be the main place of residence of KP.

It is known the LTTE has heavily bribed the Thai military officials. In 2002 when LTTE delegation met the Sri Lankan officials in Bangkok for peace talks some members of the delegation was taken by a senior Thai military commander accompanied by soldiers to meet KP in the interiors of north-eastern jungle. The delegation members (names withheld) had lengthy meeting in a tea boutique and they had discussed operational issues of the LTTE.

The Thai military had provided security throughout the four hour meeting with KP. Once the meeting was over, the delegation members were taken back to Bangkok in military vehicles.

This visit of the delegation members had taken place when LTTE mentor Anton Balasingam was tussling (refer to Anton Balasingam’s hero’s day speech in 2004) with few other members whom were visiting the red light areas of Bangkok.

(http://lankaguardian.blogspot.com/2007/10/ltte-has-strong-links-with-thai.html)

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