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Archive for March, 2008

Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets bombed a sea tiger base located in Alampil in LTTE stronghold of Mullaithiv district yesterday. The raids which were made yesterday afternoon, are reported to be accurate. No casualty details are available as of yet. The Air Force has shown more activity in the past week with its fighter jets and gunships both assisting the ground forces, even amidst bad weather conditions.

Meanwhile continuous rain in Mannar has greatly affected the ongoing operations by the army. The flood like situation and soggy ground conditions have made the deployment of armored vehicles near impossible. Ground forces advance has also slowed down as trenches dug and death traps set by the LTTE are now covered with water and are not easily visible. However against all odd the army captured LTTE controlled Ilantheevan, located to the south of Adampan junction on the 29th.

Meanwhile more than 500 soldiers have so far fallen to Chikengunya and Dengu diseases due to the worsening sanitary conditions in the front lines affected by rain. Necessary steps are being taken to prevent the spread of such diseases and reserve forces have been deployed in the affected areas.

Around two weeks ago Military Intelligence received fresh intel on the massive trench that is been dug in the northern FDL to stop the Mechanized Infantry Brigade which the tigers apparently consider to be a great threat. The multi layered trench complex with iron fences and reinforced concrete are supposed to not only stop the heavy armor from storming tiger defenses but the tigers are also planning to capture any vehicles that fall into them. Mechanized Infantry brigade has changed its strategy and future plans based on the new intel.

(Defencenet)

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  • Field commanders brief Commander-in-Chief of threats from unexpected enemy – floods
  • Evidence emerges Sea Tigers used human torpedo to attack Dvora
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With just two weeks to go for the National New Year, what portends in the battlefields of the Wanni engaged the attention of both political and military leaders this week. It was not merely a task of assessing performance on the ground. More importantly, the move was to determine how the progress or the lack of it would influence all other activity. They include development work, festivity in the coming weeks, and the upcoming Eastern Provincial Council elections.

With these factors in mind, President Mahinda Rajapaksa invited senior officers of the Army and the Navy in the Northern and Eastern theatres for the National Security Council meeting on Friday at Temple Trees. They were later entertained to lunch. The meeting usually held on Wednesday was put off by two days in view of the death of the mother of the first lady, Shiranthi Rajapaksa.

Among those taking part were: Security Forces Commander (Jaffna), Major General G.A. Chandrasiri, Major General Jagath Dias (GOC – 57 Division), Brigadier Shavindra Silva (Commander Task Force 1 and Commander, Commando Regiment), Brigadier Nandana Udawatte (Officiating GOC, 59 Division), Rear Admiral Tissera Samarasinghe, (Commander, Northern Naval Area) and Rear Admiral Ananda Peiris (Commander, Eastern Naval Area).

A technical glitch nearly delayed the arrival of Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri from Palaly. The Air Force had to fly its Hercules C-130 transport plane to bring Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri to Palaly from where he was airlifted to Colombo in a helicopter. Sessions of the National Security Council are held behind closed doors and deliberations usually remain a secret. This is in view of national security concerns.

The Sunday Times will not therefore comment on the areas of discussion or on matters focused. However, some issues of public interest pieced together following conversations with those invited can be revealed. Most of them were of the view that an unexpected enemy – incessant rains – had hampered offensive operations in the Wanni. These were both in the Mannar and Weli Oya sectors. They opined that Tiger guerrillas “have been weakened” and they “were on the retreat.” Troops were undeterred and braving all the odds, but the conditions, they said, were difficult. The bunkers were flooded. Air activity, like surveillance, close air support, casualty evacuation, among others, were being hampered by bad weather. Roads were muddy. Deployment of armoured vehicles was posing a problem. Senior officers showed photographs of soldiers wading in the floodwaters or engaged in other tasks braving the floods.

Offensive military operations in the Mannar sector began on July 2 last year. A second flank in the north-eastern Wanni, inland from the coast, ahead of Ethawetunuwewa and Janakapura, began on January 7, this year. “President Rajapaksa showed very keen interest in what we said. He raised a number of pertinent questions,” said a senior Army officer who spoke on grounds of anonymity.

He said he was well versed on the ground realities and made copious personal notes of the observations they made. Understandably, the President, who is the Minister of Defence and Commander-in-Chief, is conscious of the intensified efforts to both strengthen and modernise the armed forces since he took office. Now that the Government’s “war on terror,” in the ongoing Eelam War IV is under way, he would naturally want to ascertain the progress made in the light of heavy expenditure incurred on defence. Some aspects relating to this cannot be commented upon due to personal constraints. They include the all-important subject of casualties.

A senior Army officer had raised issue over Rupavahini, the national television network, not airing visuals they sent regularly depicting successes in the battlefield. Instead, file footage of previous military activity was being broadcast. One source said an angry President Rajapaksa promptly summoned officials from the TV station to personally hear the Army officer’s charges. The officials in question had not contested the allegations but said arrangements had now been made to improve coverage in the battle areas.

President Rajapaksa had called for an immediate report on the complaint made by the Army officer. Earlier, Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa had ordered an inquiry into how a “crawler” at the bottom of the screen had erroneously reported the death of a close member of the President’s family when in fact, it was his mother-in-law who had passed away. This inquiry is to ascertain whether this was an act of sabotage. However, senior officials at Rupavahini insisted, “this was a bona fide error though a serious one.”

Both the Army and Navy officers, the sources said, gave detailed accounts of their activity. They said troops were making gains when the inclement weather conditions literally stalled activity. However, they said that operations would continue to weaken Tiger guerrillas. In this backdrop, concerns grew at Navy Headquarters in Colombo on the attack on a Dvora Fast Attack Craft. As reported last week, an explosion engulfed the locally built FAC in a ball of fire and it sank immediately. The Sea Tiger attack on the naval craft took place on March 22 in the deep seas off Nayaru, which lies near the Tiger guerrilla stronghold of Mullaitivu.

Early this week, naval craft on search-and-rescue operations discovered the bodies of three of their sailors. Last Thursday, the Navy in the seas off Point Pedro found parts of a female body, suspected to be that of a guerrilla cadre involved in the attack. The fate of seven other Navy sailors is still not known. According to a senior official at Navy Headquarters in Colombo, an unknown number of sailors were in guerrilla custody. However, this claim cannot be independently verified.

Contrary to earlier thinking that the Dvora (437) built by Colombo Dockyard was hit by a sea mine, there is a growing belief that a human torpedo was the cause. The Sunday Times has learnt from highly placed Navy sources that at least three guerrillas directed an engine driven (floating or submerged) contraption at the Dvora and banged on it enveloping it in a ball of fire. It sank. The Tamilnet web site, however, claimed the guerrillas then “engaged in a confrontation” with the Navy “that lasted for 45 minutes.”

The claim to suggest that it was a gun battle at sea, Navy sources say, is to cover up the fact that they possess a new capability. In fact, neither the crew of the second Dvora nor survivors from the one that was destroyed, as reported last week, were able to say how the incident occurred. There was no exchange of fire and no evidence electronically to confirm that there was indeed a confrontation.

Just 24 hours after the attack destroying the Dvora, Sea Tigers (on Sunday) engaged a naval patrol in the seas off Kallarawa (north of Tiriyai) in the Trincomalee district. A flotilla of ten Sea Tiger boats accompanied by six “suicide craft”, Navy officials said, engaged a Navy patrol for over three hours from midnight. One guerrilla vessel was “badly damaged” and they withdrew from the area. There were no casualties or damage to the Navy, they added. Beginning midnight yesterday, a Navy patrol was also locked in sea battles with the guerrillas.

The frequency of naval encounters in the north-eastern seas is increasing. Navy officials say this is because the seas are now turning calm and will be even calmer in the coming weeks. In the light of this, both the Northern and Eastern Commands of the Navy have alerted their personnel to remain on high alert.
In the East, where the Ministry of Defence is drawing up plans to effect a phased re-deployment of troops, enhanced security measures have also become a priority. This is particularly in view of preparations for the upcoming Provincial Council elections.

The actions of a senior Police officer in the Batticaloa district have come under inquiry after an incident in which two policemen were killed. This was due to a claymore mine attack by Tiger guerrillas at Manalpiddy (near Kokkadicholai), seven kilometres from the Batticaloa town. The incident in this area had come when a police party was escorting a Japanese national to inspect a project. The officer is said to have authorised provision of escort without any clearance from higher authorities.

In the light of the ongoing military offensives in the Wanni, the Government is giving priority to the requirements of the Security Forces and the Police. In this regard, greater significance is being attached to the inclusion of two members from the defence sector in Prime Minister, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake’s visit to Israel. They are Ranjit Wickremasinghe, Chief Executive Officer of Lanka Logistics Ltd. and Brigadier Udaya Perera, Director, Operations at Army Headquarters.

The Sunday Times learns Mr. Wickremanayake had a meeting with former Prime Minister and now Defence Minister, Ehud Barak in Israel. The Sri Lankan team also visited the state owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI – formerly known as Israel Aircraft Industries). Yair Ramati, Deputy Director (Marketing) at IAI received them. Among the many military products, the IAI manufactures Super Dvora (Bee) Fast Attack Craft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Premier Wickremanayake and his entourage have since returned to Sri Lanka.

This week’s events show that charting the “war on terror” on the correct course is one of Government’s top priorities. In meeting the field commanders, President Rajapaksa has demonstrated that he is in personal control and will closely monitor developments. Thus, the coming weeks and months of ongoing Eelam War IV will remain critical for Sri Lanka’s future.

 

 

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  • LTTE operative arrested in Thailand with 5,000 cards
  • Norwegian Police investigate largest card scams in history

Major international criminal investigation bodies, have begun to probe a global network of credit card frauds which are reportedly being carried out by LTTE operatives. The Sunday Times learns that Britain’s Scotland Yard, USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Interpol are some of the investigation units that are probing the scam.

It is learnt that Interpol is investigating nearly 30 cases where the LTTE has used pilfered credit to operate scams running into millions of dollars which are suspected to have been used to fund their on-going war.

An Interpol official who spoke to The Sunday Times from his headquarters in Leon France, said the organization was making arrangements to send a sleuth to Colombo to meet with detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) who are handling global credit card scams.

He charged many Sri Lankans living in major capitals around the world were involved in a scheme of stealing these cards and later using them in Sri Lanka. He said Interpol had traced transactions using stolen credit cards back to Sri Lanka and said he believed most of the monies realized went to fund terrorist activities.

Last Sunday evening two Tamil individuals from Pettah -Pilayar Arudukumar and Rajasri Paripan- were arrested at an Air Force checkpoint on Stanley Wijeysundara Mawatha for possessing 20 stolen credit cards. The two were apprehended when the three-wheeler they were travelling in was searched.

The suspects and driver of the vehicle were handed over to the Cinnamon Gardens Police who eventually released the driver of the three-wheeler. Investigations revealed that the credit cards were stolen in Germany. Under interrogation the suspects confessed the credit cards were sent to them by a Tamil contact who is said to be living in France.

The Cinnamon Gardens police are to hand over the investigation to the CID who will inform Interpol regarding the scam. This incident comes hard on the heels of the arrest of six suspected LTTE activists in London where they had withdrawn approximately 15,000 sterling pounds from the account of the wife of a Conservative Party MP.

Investigations revealed that they had been using the credit card scam to finance LTTE operations. The interrogation of the six by Scotland Yard led to the arrest of one Syrian and another LTTE operative named Jonathan Shanmugalingam on Wednesday during a raid on a house in East London.

Scotland Yard is now hunting for another LTTE suspect who has been involved in the scam. Nearly 200 forged credit cards and 40 ATM cards have been discovered by the British police following the recent crackdown on LTTE operatives.

The Sunday Times learns that a Sri Lankan lady who visited the United States in the year 2006 and purchased a Dell Laptop online had been one of the victims of the ongoing global credit card scam. Last month the lady who attempted to use her card at a supermarket in Colombo found her Gold Master Card blocked as an online purchase of $30 that had taken place in the state of Maryland just few hours before she had used her card in Colombo.

It is learnt that the FBI is investigating several such online credit card frauds that are running into millions of dollars. In the meantime the Norwegian Police are investigating one of the largest credit card scams to hit the country. A 35-year-old LTTE operative Satrubarajah Shanmugarajah alias Ruby pleaded guilty to several of the charges including pilfering 5.3 million Norwegian Kroners with stolen and fake credit cards.

Other defendants in the case are Sureswaran Thuraisingham, Kajamugan Parameswaran, Selvakumar Yoganathan, Theepakanth Aiyathurai and Sriranjan Sivananeswaran. Earlier this year the Norwegian police arrested several LTTE operatives who were running an organised crime group. It is reported that there are 95 credit card cases pending against many of these suspected LTTE operatives.

There are total of 16 defendants in the Norwegian case. Some of the defendants are well known figures in the Norwegian underworld. 32 witnesses will be called to testify in one of the largest credit card fraud cases in Norwegian history.

The court case is progressing slowly and the translation into the Tamil language complicates and delays the case further. In other cases an LTTE operative identified as M. Pathmathas was arrested with 5000 cards in Phuket, Thailand this year.

In Nairobi, Kenya an LTTE operative identified as Balakumar Poluthurai who is a Norwegian passport holder too was arrested at an ATM booth for possessing 72 fake credit cards and ATM cards.

 

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Fresh clashes as water levels recede

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Mannar’s rice bowl, which is the theatre of recent battles resembled a virtual water tank after the two weeks of heavy downpour which submerged this low- lying land and forced every living creature there to seek refuge in lands of higher elevation .
It has been a daunting task for troops and Tiger cadres alike to cope with the hostile weather.
Bunkers went underwater; trenches became waterways. Booby traps were uprooted and washed away by the gushing waters.
The manoeuverability of the heavy armour and battle tanks was hindered by soggy soil, forcing troops to rely on tractors . Worse still, rain wreaked havoc, uprooting and washing away anti personnel mines from where they were buried.
The standard military practice is that locations where mines are laid are marked in mine maps for future reference and possible future de-mining activities. Yet, gushing waters could uproot mines, scatter them on the ground, rendering the whole mining and mapping process ineffective. Troops have no option but to begin from scratch.

he history of the Eelam war is such , that the North East monsoon has regularly been used by the LTTE to launch major offensives. The heavy rains restricts the manoeuverability of the armoured corps and compromises the target accuracy of artillery and air strikes. Aircraft would be grounded and all this would take away the technological edge enjoyed by the troops against the Tigers.

Yet, late last week, as the weather improved, troops sprung into action, carrying out a surprise offensive against fortified Tiger positions in Parayakulam, decimating eight bunkers. Troops recovered 11 bodies of slain Tigers which were later handed over through the ICRC. The Army said 52 Tiger cadres were killed in the clash, adding that four soldiers were killed and 25 wounded in the same clash. However, these figures could not be independently verified. On Friday, Security Forces Commander Jaffna and Security Forces Commanders of 57, 58 and 59 Divisions which spearhead a military push into the Tiger hinterland of the Wanni and Mullaitivu were summoned to a Security Council meeting. They briefed the President on the operational strategy in Mannar, Vavuniya and Weli Oya sectors using graphic illustrations. They showcased the success achieved so far and the plan for the future. The inter coordination of three forces were underscored and the success of aerial strikes were discussed. Further details in this regard could not be discussed due to the confidential nature of the discussions.
In the battle front, after a brief lull as a result of torrential rains, fresh confrontations are flaring up in the Mannar rice bowl.

Fighting has been concentrated in Adampan and Pallekuli. Tigers have built bunkers In abandoned houses in Adampan, from where troops come under sporadic attacks.
On Wednesday, as the rains eased, troops called for air support in the Mannar front. Two MI 24 Hind Attack helicopters bombed two forward operation bases at Alankulama and Kaliadanchan, on the Mannar battlefront. Later in the day, Kfir interceptors of the Air Force bombed a boat manufacturing facility of the LTTE located in
the Vishwamadhukulama area in Kilinochchi. Last week, the troops of 57 Division captured Periya pandirichchan and Sinna pandirichchan, two remote villages located north of the Thampanai village. As the security forces advanced, they came under a heavy volume of 81 mm mortar fire originated from the No Fire Zone surrounding the sacred Madhu Church. The mortar fire was so intense that it virtually stalled troop advance.

Field Commanders had no option, but to opt to counter battery fire, yet, the attackers were in the vicinity of the No Fire Zone. Shells fired from SLA’s 122 mm artillery fell on the boundary of the No Fire Zone, compelling the Parish priest to demand Tiger cadres to vacate the No Fire Zone.

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A military official said the mortar attacks from the vicinity of the Sacred Madhu church could be a precursor to the would- be Tiger strategy in Madhu.
“The LTTE knows that one stray shell hitting the church and they will have bread and butter for a long time,” said a military official.

The military strategy as it appears is to encircle the church premises and cut off the supply route by capturing Palampiddi, thereby forcing the Tigers to vacate the positions in Madhu without a fire fight. It was in 1999, during Operation Ranagosa that troops for the last time captured the area North of Mannar. The troops engaged the three phased Operation- Ranagosa (I, II and III )captured Sinnapandirichchan, Periya Pandirichchan, Periya Madhu, Thampanai and Palampiddi.

Earlier, in May 1997, Operation Jayasikuru advanced from Omanthai upto Mankulam and later to Kilinochchi. Operation Rivibala caputured Oddusudan in December 1998.
Yet in November 1999, all military gains were reversed in a matter of days largely due to the poor military leadership as the Tigers launched Ceaseless waves III, pushing the troops back to Lanka Junction in Vavuniya. An area of the size of 800 km, captured painstakingly during the 1997-1999 period fell into LTTE hands .

The capture of Madhu is long overdue; though it does not bring substantial military advantage, there is great political advantage. Yet, the fierce resistence offered by the LTTE is a clear statement that the Tigers are not a spent force as they are described on political platforms.

On Friday, heavy fighting broke out in Vilathikulam. The army said five Tiger cadres were killed . In a separate confrontation in the east of Madhu, two soldiers were wounded. On the same day in the northern front, Army snipers killed three Tiger cadres in Nagar Kovil Later in the day, another Tiger cadres fell prey to an Army sniper inMuhamalai. In the Weli Oya sector, troops confront Tigers regularly along the 12 km- long defence line running from Ethawatunuwewa to Janakapura.

On Friday, troops recovered a body of a slain Tiger cadre after a fire fight in Kiliebbanwewa in the Weli Oya sector. .Early this week, a heavy fire fight flared up when the troops attacked what was dubbed as a strong point of the LTTE located North of Janakapura. Troops recovered five bodies of slain Tiger cadres alongside with five Type 56 assault rifles, 60 mm grenade launcher and one radio set. One soldier was injured due to anti-personnel mine explosion. In a separate clash which took place north of Kiribbanwewa, at least five LTT cadres were killed, the Army said. One soldier was killed and three others suffered injuries while another soldier had gone missing after the attack. In the same area, four Tiger cadres were either killed or wounded in a clash sparked on Wednesday. One soldier also received injuries in this incident. Again, these figures could not be independently verifed.

However, the striking difference between the recent military operations on three fronts and its predecessors in the late nineties is that most previous operations relied heavily on the special forces, which, inevitably, exposed the elite troops to excessive risk. The strength of the Special Forces were severely strained due to battlefield casualties.
This also restricted their mobilization in special operational duties in which they were supposed to be assigned, thus depriving the security forces of the special training of its elite troops. In contrast, the recent military operations carried out by Regular forces of the SLA, such as the Gemunu Watch (GW), the Gajaba Regiment (GR), the Singha Regiment (SR) and the Mechanized Infantry Regiment etc. This enables the mobilization of Special Forces and Commandos on special missions such as Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Missions, which have obviously caused a fear psychosis within Tiger ranks.

Attrition attacks

The present military strategy which concentrates on attrition attacks – thereby downsizing enemy man power- differs from that of previous military operations which envisaged to capture land. The previous military operations required a large number of troops for holding task and resulted in a severe drain of troops for offensive operations.
The small unit operations deployed in recent operations have also helped cutting down battlefield casualties caused by indirect fire.

Last week, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara announced the death toll in the past two weeks.

According to statistics presented , 501 Tiger cadres have been killed during the period from March 7 to March 24. Fifty five soldiers have been killed and 223 wounded during the same period.

He also said 115 bodies of slain cadres have been handed over to the LTTE since the beginning of this year. He also said that the security forces had captured an area of 35 km2 South of the A 14 road.

Meanwhile, the Defence Attache of the Indian High Commission Captain Pradeep Singh toured the Jaffna peninsula and visited the security forces defence lines during a three day visit. He preferred obscurity during his visit, hence the absence of an official statement regarding his visit.

(Lakbimanews)

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The main fighting in the West Coast, as of now, is concentrated in the outskirts of Adampan and Pallaikuli. Other areas like Uylankulam entry-exit point and Sirikulam are almost entirely under Security Forces control. Brief skirmishes continue in Parappakandal and Giant’s Tank West (8 GW) and East, Mud Spill and Ittikandal to the west.

The above map indicates the small tanks scattered across the terrain. The tanks west and east of Adampan are under SLA control. The Giant’s Tank is to the east of Uylankulam and is slightly larger.

The weather, as it is customary, has worsened. The ground is soggy and the small tanks shown in the above map that act as barriers are full of water. Only tractors, some captured from the LTTE, can travel in the muddy jungle routes cleared by troops. The houses in Adampan have underground bunkers in them where Tigers hide and launch attacks.

Foot bridges, culverts, trees, bushes, abandoned Tiger bodies are booby-trapped. The uniforms of the officers and men get wet in the rain and become heavy. The boots have to be sealed for many days in the mud. The muddy ground conditions makes stealthy reconnaissance and group attacks a formidable challenge.

A comparison between the situation then and now

Back then…

In May 1997, Operation Jayasikurui advanced towards Mankulam via Omanthai. Operation Rivibala launched in December 1998 captured Oddusudan and made further inroads into Mulaithivu.

In 1999, Operations Ranagosha I,II and III captured Sinnapandivirichan, Periya Pandivirichian, Thatchanamaranthamadu, Periyamadhu, Thampanai, upto Palampiddi. The operations managed to capture over 800 square Kilometers in Mannar, Weli Oya and Mulaithivu. The Army relied on Sri Lanka Air Force and Navy troops (example Walagamba Camp) to man the area. It also established small bases inside the jungles.

Barely a year after, in November 1999, the LTTE launched Oyatha Alaikal III (Ceaseless Waves-3) under the leadership of its Military Wing leader Balraj. The offensives were led personally by Karuna (Field Commander) and his Jeyanthan Regiment troops. Charles Anthony, the Karum Puli (Black Tigers), ‘Leopard Commandos’ Victor Anti-Armour unit etc were also involved.

The Navy and Air Force personnel broke ranks with the Army (example Oddusudan). The Army was forced out of Mankulam and fell back all the upto ‘Lanka Handiya’ in Vavuniya. The Mannar and Weli Oya ranks also fell back. The total loss of life, although not revealed was close to 1000 troops killed. Over 800 square kilometers captured painstakingly from 1997 to 1999 were lost in November 1999.

Between now and then..

In Operations Jayasikurui(also Watershed), Rivibala and Ranagosha, the elite units of the 53 Division were heavily involved, both in breaking through LTTE defenses and in defending against Oyatha Alaikal. As a result, 2 and 3 SF for example had lost a lot of men and the defence establishment thought of collapsing the 3 Regiments into one. This is no longer the case.

The most prominent regiments involved in the fighting today are the regulars from Gemunu Watch (GW), Gajaba IR, Vijayaba Regiment, Singha Regiment and on occasion, 2 and 3 Commando. The Armoured Corp also chips in. The Brigades now in operation are additions to the Army. These include the 57, 58, 59, Mechanized Infantry and soon, the 61 Division. This is a remarkable achievement.

This has also freed up the Special Forces to carry out specialized missions in the deep and medium battle-space (LRRP), raids, reconnaissance, decapitation strikes (example Charles) etc.

The fighting is planned and executed by the Sri Lanka Army and the Army alone. No Naval or Air Force detachments have been deployed. No bases have been established in jungles infested by the LTTE.

In 1999, the small satellite camps established in jungles in Jayasikurui, Rivibala and Ranagosha Operations were surrounded and overrun one after the other. In 2007-8, the satellite camps existing in the area are those of the LTTE and they are being overrun by the SLA (Don’t die for your land, let them die for theirs).

The Operations of today have no name. They have no superficial goals like grabbing land or roads, but have the objective of killing a minimum number of Tigers a day. The results speak for themselves. From 22nd September 2007 todate, over 1300 Tigers have been killed in Mannar alone.

The most important aspect of the entire Operation by the Army is the leadership and morale. General Fonseka has been studying the LTTE since he joined the Army’s 3rd Officer Intake. His thesis/’doctoral dissertation’, unlike his predecessors, has been the LTTE. His knowledge of the terrain is remarkable and no officer serving can challenge it.

The Army under General Fonseka has a no-nonsense policy in making promotions , which are based primarily on merit, rather than saeniority. he is also a survivor of an LTTE suicide attack!

The LTTE’s capacity, or lack of it, an independent analysis

  • No capacity to launch Ceaseless Waves after significant losses since 2002 (perhaps over 6,000 due to disbanding, death, serious injury)
  • Experienced field commanders and 2nd and 3rd line leadership like Karuna, Ramanan, Charles, Rabat, Reggie, Mangalam, Riyaseelan, Ineya Parathi are either dead or defected
  • Prabha, Balraj, Sornam, Soosei, Jeyam, Bhanu etc are now older by 9 additional years and less energetic
  • The experienced rank and file is also getting old. Younger rank and file is less experienced
  • Decapitation strikes and LRRP operations restricting Tiger leaders mobility and command
  • Defensive mindset in contrast to the offensive mindset of 1999
  • Heavy use of artillery in 1999 has drastically subsided after destruction of arms ships
  • Heavy use of trappings. Less conventional and tactical warfare than in 1999
  • Loss of key intelligence personnel like Charles
  • Loss of political strategists like Balasingham and Thamilselvan

(Defensewire)

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At the Security Council meeting held on Friday morning, Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka was due to brief President Mahinda Rajapaksa about the progress of the battle to liberate Wanni from the clutches of the LTTE.For this Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka made special arrangements to bring in Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General Chandrasiri, General Officer Commanding (GoC) 57 Division Brigadier Jagath Dias, GoC 58 Division (Mannar) Brigadier Shavendra Silva and GoC 59 Division (Weli Oya) Brigadier Nandana Udawatta for this Security Council meeting held on Friday morning in Colombo.

President Rajapaksa was keen to hear from the field commanders about the progress of the battlefront in Wanni. He was much interested about the Madhu battlefront and was keen to know how long it would take for the troops to take control of Madhu.

General Officer Commanding 57 offensive Division in the West of Vavuniya, who has now been promoted as a Major General replied to the President that they are doing their best to take control of Madhu before the New Year. The President was extremely happy about the progress of the battlefronts and then asked them what they required in the battlefront adding that the Government is ready to fulfill all the requirements of the troops.

The President was also worried about the increase of casualties among the troops but field commanders explained the difficulties they are facing in the battlefronts due to the prevailing rainy weather conditions in the Wanni battlefront, which had made the task before the troops a difficult one.

Great success

But amidst all these difficulties troops have been able to achieve greater successes in the Wanni battlefront and this correspondent was able to assess the real progress of the battlefront in a five-days visit to the Weli Oya, Vavuniya and Mannar battlefronts.

What Major General Jagath Dias predicted would become a realistic assessment in the backdrop of troops advance into Madhu area in three fronts within this week.

Yet, there is a danger behind any hasty decision to advance into Madhu area as LTTE is trying their best to stop the troops advance by directing mortar fire towards the troops taking the cover of the Madhu ‘No Fire Zone’, which extends up to four square kilometers.

But troops have been extremely careful in handling the battle in this sensitive area by taking diversionary tactics to take control of the area without using any firepower within the ‘No Fire Zone’ despite attempts by the LTTE to provoke the Security Forces.

If heavy fighting erupted in the Madhu area the LTTE will no doubt use it as a political issue and also to bring international pressure on the Government to hold the military offensive in the Wanni. So troops must be aware of the sensitivity of keeping their feet into this sacred area.

At present the entire Madhu area has been surrounded in three fronts leaving room for the LTTE to withdraw from the West of Madhu area.

Vital move

The capture of the villages Periyapandivirichchan and Sinnapandivirichchan in the South of Madhu and South East of Madhu can be considered a vital move as a prelude to capture the sacred Madhu shrine area.

Periyapandivirichchan was the village located just two kilometres of South East of Madhu along the Piramanalankulam-Madhu road which connects to the Vavuniya-Mannar road via Piramanalanakulam. Troops are now operating just 1.8 Kilometres away from the edge of the ‘No Fire Zone’ and in full control of the Periyapandivirichchan village.

Troops of the 572 Brigade also took control over the Sinnapandivirichchan village in the South of Madhu in their bid to isolate the Tiger cadres operating in the Madhu shrine area.

Meanwhile troops attached to the 571 Brigade too advanced further towards Palampiddi in the North of Madhu junction taking full control of the Mullikulam village and capturing Keerisuddan area.

Troops made these advances amidst heavy rains as they do not want to give time for the LTTE to relax and adjust for the battle by constructing new defence lines. It was the practice of the LTTE to take cover of this rainy weather conditions for their advantage and hit back the Security Forces, but now they have to face the challenge posed by the Security Forces to keep their territory intact.

But intelligence sources indicate that they are not in a position to face this situation at all as they are running short of food and other requirements especially manpower to defend their Forward Defence Lines.

However, troops have observed that the LTTE is making use of increased firepower against the advancing troops compared to the past few months. They are suspecting either the LTTE was using artillery and mortar reserved for a decisive battle or they have unloaded a stock of ammunition by sea.

Both these factors are valid in the current context of the battle as they have already been engaged in a decisive battle in Vavuniya, Mannar and Weli Oya.

Imaginary Tamil Eelam

As theatres of all battles have shifted to decisive areas in the imaginary Tamil Eelam map there is no other option for the LTTE but to make use of its available resources to defend their territory.

In this context it can be believed that the LTTE is using the remaining firepower against the ground troops advancing towards Wanni in three fronts. But in the same breath we cannot reject the fact that the LTTE had unloaded an arms and ammunition stock to Wanni.

The last Saturday incident in Mullaitivu was a classic example that the LTTE is trying their best to increase its presence in the sea, with the objective of transporting arms and ammunition to Wanni.

It is true that LTTE never depends on one strategy for their supplies.

The destruction of the fleet of ship by the Sri Lanka Navy could not be the end of their arms smuggling operations. They must be depending on some other methods to obtain their supplies internationally.

It was in the backdrop of Indian Defence authorities taking tough measures to control the LTTE arms smuggling crossing the India-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line.

According to press reports Vice Admiral Ram Prem Suthan, Vice Chief of Naval Staff designate of the Indian Navy sternly warned all Indian fishermen not to enter the territorial waters of Sri Lanka as the LTTE can make use of the presence of the Indian fishermen to cover up their arms smuggling racket.

Never fired

Vice Admiral Suthan said the Sri Lankan Navy has never fired at Indian fishermen inside the Indian territorial waters, referring to allegations that some fishermen have been fired at by the Sri Lanka navy. So the incident at Nayaru lagoon could have been a part of their plan to take control of the sea area in Mullaitivu in the absence of the Indian border for their arms smuggling racket.

Through such incidents the LTTE can restrict the free movements of the Naval troops in the North Eastern seas, especially in the Mullaitivu sea belt.

Though investigations have not yet confirmed what had exactly transpired on Saturday early morning it is not a factor to boost the image of the LTTE whether it was an underwater suicide attack or a sea mine explosion.

Whether it was a suicide attack or a sea mine explosion the Sea Tigers proves that they no longer can take the upper hand by facing a face to face attack in the sea. They have been reduced to a status to launch only guerrilla type of attacks either taking the cover of the fishing vessels or suicide attacks.

Increased surveillances

But the Navy will have to increase its surveillances in the sea as all efforts taken by the ground troops to liberate Wanni will go in the drains if the LTTE is given a chance to increase their firepower.

In the same way the Sri Lanka Air Force will also have to continue its successful role for the next few months too, to destroy Tiger gun positions and ammo dumps, if the ground troops to achieve its target with a minimum casualty rate.

It was with all these aspects in mind the Tiger leadership is currently engaged in tactics to delay the troops advance into the Tiger territory by constructing defence lines one after the other and creating mine fields to inflict maximum casualties to the ground troops.

This has been evident from the trench defence system they have adopted in the Mannar battlefront and also in the Vavuniya battlefronts. They can easily take cover from the artillery and mortar attacks of the troops once they get into neck high trenches in the Mannar front which is basically an open battlefront with a huge extent of fallow paddy lands and abandoned tanks.

Apart from this the bunkers had been constructed using massive stocks of timber logs, destroying forest reserves in Mannar. The Tiger cadres can take cover even from air attacks using these bunkers laid with thick layers of timer.

These trenches dug by the Tiger cadres have turned into natural booby traps due to the heavy rains prevailing in Mannar these days as the troops will be drowned in if they accidentally fall into these trenches.

But troops overcame all these obstacles when the 12 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Harendra Dunuwila and 6 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Kamal Pinnawala took control of the Tiger defence line between Uyilankulam Adampan road and Uyilankulam Andankulam road killing more than 40 Tiger cadres and recovering Tiger dead bodies.

Major blow

It was a major blow on the LTTE as it never expected this type of attack from the Security Forces under bad weather conditions. With these successes in the battlefront the Security Forces have now proved that they are capable of fighting the enemy in any weather condition.

The basic factor behind this was the high morale of the Security Forces with the winning trend they followed for the past few months without losing a single ground in the Mannar front.

But the Mannar front has also become sensitive not only due to this situation but also due to the arrival of civilians from the uncleared areas to cleared areas after crossing the sea belt across Vidathalthivu.

As troops have already advanced closer to Vidathalthivu and also surrounding strategic Adampan town the possibility of a civilian exodus to flle Tiger held areas is very high.

According to General Officer Command of the Mannar Area Head Quarters Brigadier Channa Goonatilleke the number of civilians arriving in Mannar was on the increase during March. Over 120 civilians belonging to 42 families have arrived in Mannar through Pallimunai Navy point within this month alone.

For the first time a Grama Sevaka and school teacher also arrived in Mannar fleeing the Tiger grip. They have paid at least Rs. 150,000 for the boat ride from Vidathalthivu to Pallimunai.

These civilians have arrived from Vidathalthivu, Kilinochchi, Nachchikudah, Pooneryn South and Vellavelankulam.

The current developments in all the battlefronts are expected to achieve their highest victories in the coming weeks fulfilling hopes and aspirations of the people living in Wanni and also in the South.

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Soldiers of the 58 Division in Mannar successfully marched another 700 metres into the LTTE stronghold yesterday, military sources said.

Soldiers destroyed two LTTE bunker lines in the Ilanthivan area of Adampan in Mannar during the operation. Ground troops said that at least ten LTTE cadres could have been killed during the confrontation.

Last week, soldiers of the 58 Division advanced 1 kilometre into the Forward Defence Lines amidst heavy rains. According to ground information 42 terrorists were killed during the confrontation where the Army recovered 17 bodies. Of which 11 were handed over to the International Red Cross.

Another Tamil civilian, was were unable to put up with the LTTE’s ruthless control, reached the Naval Detachment at Pallimunai in Mannar.

The total number of people who have reached the cleared areas seeking Government protection has increased to 213.

There are 14 families among the Internationally Displaced People (IDP). According to statistics 18 boys and 13 girls are among the IDPs which include 14 children under 10 and two four-month-old infants.

Fifty-four LTTE cadres surrendered to the Army in the Northen peninsula in March. Ten LTTE cadres surrendered to the Security Forces in the Wanni area during the past two months.

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