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Archive for March 1st, 2008

Sri Lanka Army soldiers running at  terror defences in Mannar today (February 28) achieved a tremendous success against LTTE terrorists by establishing the domination over the area of Sinnaodaippu in the North of Giant Tank today (February 28). According to the latest military reports received from Mannar battlefront troops have been able to capture an important sluice gate in the area along with a fortified bunker and a trench defence of the terrorists.

According to the defence sources in the area, Sri Lanka army infantrymen backed by artillery, launched the first assault at the terrorists’ defence line around 10.a.m. and were able to beat off the terrorists by 11.45.a.m. The ground troops have reported that 20 terrorists were killed during the confrontation. However, the overheard radio transmissions of LTTE have revealed that only 14 cadres were killed during the first assault. During the subsequent search in the area , troops have found six T-56 riffles.

The sources further said that the terrorists made a counter attack around 12 noon with terror leaders Bhanu and Lakshman leading from the back. About 70-80 terrorists reported to have come to the attack but were crushed in the army retaliatory fire, said the sources. The terrorists have quickly turned tail with heavy casualties despite the wailing of Bhanu and Lakshman on radio for the frontlines to hold out, the sources added.

Ground troops have reported 20-30 LTTE cadres were either killed or wounded. Also, the LTTE radios have transmitted an inevitable retreat with heavy damages after the abortive counter attack.

Further , the Army snipers who were deployed along with advancing troops have reported shooting down of 10 more LTTE cadres.

Four soldiers suffered injuries , including 2 in serious conditions. The injured were rushed to Anuradhapura hospital.

Troops are consolidating their defence in the newly liberated terroritoy.

(more…)

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Army closing in on Madhu Swarnam sent to Mannar

Barely half an hour after the dawn of Wednesday, artillery and mortar shells began to fall on the security forces positions North of Parappakandal in Mannar.
An hour later, approximately at 1.30 am, about 150-180 Tiger cadres operating in teams of 15-20 men attempted to storm the security forces positions.

It was only two days ago that the troops, in a daring pre-dawn attack, captured this 600 meter- long- bunker line in the Parappakandal-Uyilankulam-Anandkulam Road.
In the wee hours of Wednesday, wave after wave of Tiger cadres, backed by artillery and mortar fire attempted to storm the security forces position.

At least nine teams of each comprising 15-20 Tiger cadres had been assigned to the mission. At least one 122 mm artillery gun and an assortment of 80 mm mortars were at the disposal of the LTTE during the attack.

In the past, the LTTE had been successful in this strategy. Infiltration of the defence line through attacks on loosely defended positions of the frontline had been a battle tested tactic of the LTTE during the Unceasing Waves counter- attack which reversed Operation Jayasikuru.

However, the nature of the current military operations in the Wanni front is such that the troops don’t operate in a demarcated front line. On Wednesday, the battle dragged on for four hours and the final toll proved that the perceived counter- attack had turned to be a self inflicted calamity for the Tigers.

Intercepted Tiger communications revealed that three teams had lost contact with the field command centre. A military official said at least 20 cadres would have been killed. According to certain sources, numbers could have been higher and one source suggested around 50 Tigers were either killed or wounded in the four- hour battle. Three soldiers were killed in the confrontation.

As the battle was raging, ground troops could listen – over intercepted Tiger communications- Swarnam, the former LTTE Trincomalee leader commanding the Tiger cadres. Swarnam fled Vakarai days before it fell into the hands of the security forces. Swarnam and Lakshman, the Mannar Commander of the LTTE were commanding Tiger cadres from the rear, according to military officials.

Key lieutenant

The induction of Swarnam, a key lieutenant of Tiger leader, Prabhakaran to the Mannar front indicates that the LTTE leadership is feeling the heat of the daily confrontations on the borders of Tiger territory. Jeyam, another Tiger leader who was earlier sent to fight the security forces offensive in the East and Vidusha, the leader of the all -woman Malathi Brigade are also assigned to the Mannar front.

The pre-dawn attack on Wednesday was the first major counter -attack since the Tigers carried out a daring attack on the troops of the 57 Division in Mullikulam and Vilatikulam area in May last year.

Two offensive divisions of the Army are pushing into Tiger territory in Mannar and Vavuniya. The 57 Division has been in action ahead of the security forces’ forward defence line in the west of Omanthai, since early last year while Task Force One has been operating in the Mannar front since the third quarter of last year.

Even though, the daily figures of Tiger casualties announced by the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) are often a tall order, it is understood that the regular limited offensive operations has had its toll on the LTTE. The LTTE casualty rates are disproportionately high, according to military officers in the field.

This has been cited as a reason for the absence of a major counter/diversionary attack by the LTTE. Two major attacks had been carried out by the LTTE since the break- up of the Fourth Eelam war: the simultaneous attacks on Muttur Jetty and three other military detachments on August 2, 2006 and a major frontal attack on the security forces forward defence localities in Muhamalai- Nagar Kovil and Eluthumadduwal in August 2006.

Since then, the LTTE has been forced to a defensive position in its borders and regular attrition attacks have apparently claimed a sizeable amount of manpower of the LTTE. This has greatly eroded the capability of the LTTE to carry out a major frontal attack. Instead, the Tigers have opted to attack civilian targets. A major calamity was averted yesterday, thanks to the watchful eyes of a middle- aged woman who alerted fellow passengers about an unclaimed baggage in a passenger bus.

A powerful explosion ripped through the bus minutes after the passengers were evacuated. The bus was reduced to a wreckage of mangled metal. Eighteen civilians sustained minor injuries from the explosion.
Back to the Wanni front: Recent history is that the LTTE has fought tooth and nail to halt the military incursions to its Wanni hinterland. Operation Jayasikuru is a case in point. The fierce resistance offered by the Tigers is borne out from the psyche of Tamil Eelam and the geographical advantage enjoyed by the Tiger fighters in the Wanni terrain.

Heavy resistance

The heavy resistance, which is being faced by advancing troops in the Mannar and Vavuniya front, is due to one main reason. i.e. the strategic importance of the North Western coast. Several Sea Tiger launching pads are located in the North Western coast (Vedithalthivu, Devil Point, etc). The military advance towards Vedithalthivu has threatened the sea Tiger base which functions as a major base of smuggling for military items from Tamil Nadu.

In the Mannar front, troops of Task Force One, operating ahead of their defended localities carry out regular attacks against the LTTE.
Task Force One comprises three brigades.

The 581 Brigade is now operating in the general area of Adampan, advancing towards Vedithalthivu. The 582 Brigade is operating in the area of the Giant Tank. The 583 Brigade is operating ahead of Pallaikulli.

At present, troops are operating in the strategically important “Rice Bowl” area of Mannar. The Rice Bowl area is approximately 50 km2 in area. Troops have captured an area of approximately 27 km2.
If troops capture the Rice Bowl area, the next stage of the battle would be in the thick jungles of the Wanni, where the SLA commandos and Special Forces who have excelled in jungle warfare would have the edge over the LTTE.

Hence the fierce resistance to halt the military advance within the “Rice Bowl” itself.

Equally important, if the troops push the LTTE about 10 km into its territory, that would neutralize the threat posed on the Military camps in Mannar by 122 mm artillery guns in the LTTE arsenal.
Last week, the Thallady military camp came under LTTE artillery attack, which killed 6 soldiers.

The 57 Division, comprising three Brigades is operating in the west of Omanthai. The 571 Division is operating in Thampanai, Peria Pandirichchan area, while the 572 Brigade is operating ahead of defended localities in Mullikulam. The 573 Brigade is operating in Vilatikulam.

Though they are unsung heroes most of the time, little anecdotes of bravery of the troops have filtered down to Colombo.

Stealthily

Last week, a group of soldiers of the 11 CLI (Ceylon Light Infantry) sneaked one and a half kilometers into Tiger territory. Operating stealthily, they attacked an enemy bunker, killing four LTTE cadres. They retrieved and brought two bodies of slain Tiger cadres with them.
Military Intelligence later confirmed that the slain cadres were two senior cadres of the LTTE’s Imran Pandian Brigade.

An Army Corporal, Nishantha who lead the assault was later promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the battle front itself for his exemplary show of bravery during the mission.

Last week, a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Mission of the SLA ambushed and killed three senior cadres of the LTTE’s battle seasoned Charles Anthony Brigade. Intercepted LTTE communications revealed that three Lt Colonels had been killed in the ambush. According to reports, three LRRP teams of the Army had laid in ambush. Tiger cadres who escaped the first ambush had retreated into soldiers who were waiting in the second ambush.

According to military sources, LTTE’s “operational commander” of Mannar front, Lt. Col Jeyakanthan was among the dead.

Lt.Colonel is the second highest rank in the LTTE. Another senior Tiger commander, Lt Colonel Karunaharan was also killed in an ambush by an SLA LRRP team in the Tiger- controlled area in Weli Oya. Meanwhile, troops of the 59 Division, operating in Weli Oya- Kokkuthuduwai front are pushing into the Tiger heartland of Mullaitivu.

Meanwhile, on Friday, six LTTE cadres were killed in a gun battle North of Weli Oya. The fire fight erupted when troops intercepted a group of LTTE cadres attempting to infiltrate military controlled area.
Six bodies had been retrieved and were expected to be handed over to the ICRC.

On Wednesday, the SLA handed over seven bodies of LTTE cadres, including three females, killed in fighting in Vavuniya to the ICRC.
Meanwhile, a rebel website Pathivu.com reported the death of the personal photographer of Tiger leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.
“Lt. Colonel Thavam alias Thava died a valiant death on Sunday (17)”, the pro LTTE website reported.

Military Intelligence sources believe that Thava was killed in an air raid in Thiruneweru in early February. Reference to a “valiant death” infers that the Tiger Cameraman was killed in military action.Thavam born in Trincomalee joined the LTTE in the eighties and functioned as a military cadre before moving to handle Tiger propaganda activities.
He functioned as a chief cameraman of the LTTE’s nitharsanam website at the time of his death.

These developments are taking place as the Army is moving towards Madhu. The capture of Madhu is not high in the priority list of the SLA, obviously because it could grant a propaganda coup for the Tigers. Yet, the capture of Madhu cannot altogether be ruled our either.

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The advancing Sri Lanka Army troops in the Mannar, Vavuniya and Welioya areas have again come under intensive attacks from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It appears that from a few days ago the Tigers had suddenly intensified their attacks against the military using 122 mm and 60 mm mortar shells.

The attacks had been directed towards the troops of the 58 Division in the North West of Vavuniya, and the 58 Division north of Murunkan and Janakapura north in Welioya area where the 59 Division was in operation. Questions have arisen as to whether the LTTE had received a fresh stock of arms recently enabling them to intensify their attacks.

State intelligence believe that the Tigers are still capable of obtaining weapons into their controlled territory by using fishermen from the western sea to smuggle in  small quantities of weapons.

They also claimed that the LTTE had recently brought in a considerable stock of 122 mm, 60 mm and 81 mm artillery and mortar shells from South India using fishing boats to smuggle them successfully through the Vedithalathivu area in the western sea belt. Since the destruction by the Sri Lanka Navy of more than ten large LTTE vessels with arms onboard, off the eastern seas of the country, the entire arms smuggling operation in the eastern coast had been paralyzed making the Tigers to smuggle in arms in lesser quantities by using fishing boats and fishermen from the western seas.

Following this strategy the LTTE has increased smuggling arms from Tamil Nadu, which has now become the main supply hub for Tamil Tigers.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake too said recently that LTTE activities have increased along the Tamil Nadu coast. He said that the Navy had been successful in arresting an LTTE boat carrying accessories for helicopters and remote controlled aircraft.

More than ten fishing trawlers had been destroyed by the navy in its attempts to prevent the Tigers obtaining weapons, but the Navy has not been able to completely stop the arms smuggling operation since the Tigers coerce fishermen to use small fishing boats to smuggle in arms.

Intelligence reports claim that the LTTE had acquired arms from foreign arms dealers in Burma, Indonesia and Eriteria. They further state that the Tigers still have direct deals with arms dealers in those countries.

Last year the military found that the artillery and mortars in the possession of the LTTE, and other weapons used by them had been manufactured by the Chinese state owned arms manufacturer – China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO).

However, when the Sri Lankan government inquired from the NORINCO regarding this matter, it was revealed that this type of arms had been sold to the Eriterian government as a government-to-government deal. A highly placed defence official confirmed that after thorough investigations it was later revealed that several top ranking officers of the Eriterian armed forces had direct links with the Tigers and had re-sold those NORINCO manufactured war items to the LTTE.

In a report prepared by the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee it was alleged that the Eritrean government was providing direct assistance to Sri Lanka’s separatist Tamil Tigers.

The same situation was reported from Burma as a top Burmese General had supplied arms to the Tigers.

Intelligence units claim that these deals are still taking place between the LTTE and these top officials and due to the tough security blanket covering the eastern coast these arms are being brought to Kilinochchi through Tamil Nadu.

Intelligence Agencies believe that the rebels have used the same channels to bring down their latest stock of arms. However no confirmation had been received though the Tigers apparently commenced using this stock early last week.

Military advances from three fronts south of Wanni

The advancing troops are now less than 2 kilometres away from the Madhu Church area despite heavy isolated resistance from the Tigers. Currently the 571 Brigade led by Colonel G.V. Ravipriya moved towards Palampiddy, which is some two kilometres away from Madhu Church.

The 57 Division now dominates almost all the roads leading to the Madhu Church and would reach its destination within a short period. The 58 Division that is moving towards Adampan town and Mantai west and also towards the north from Murunkan were facing severe resistance from the LTTE’s artillery and mortar attacks.  In all these battles the Tigers were not coming forward for a face-to-face combat and most of the casualties reported by the military are due to Anti-Personnel mines and mortar and artillery attacks.

Ground troops also confirmed that due to the military advances the latest trend of the LTTE was leaving behind bodies of their dead cadres.

The military has now adopted some of the tactics used by the Tigers. For example 11 Light Infantry soldiers led by Lt. Colonel G. Wijesuriya were able to capture a bunker north of Parappakandal in the 58 Division area. The Troops hurriedly removed all the anti-personal mines laid by the Tigers around the bunker and buried them inside the bunker. They then vacated the place and hid nearby (usually troops vacated the LTTE bunkers after capturing and killing the rebels unless the area has been fully secured). But in pursuance of the new tactics adopted, the troops waited. After a few hours a group of more than 10 armed rebels approached the bunker not knowing that the military had infiltrated the area. When the watching troops opened fire at the LTTE cadres they immediately ran into the bunker, where most of them were critically injured and at least eight cadres were killed from the anti-personal mines.

For the first time, ground troops took the two Mi-24 combat helicopter support to attack the Tigers at Parappakandal and the Parappakadaththal defence lines early this week.

In Welioya, troops advanced through thick jungle and gained control of several areas. The LTTE leadership had sent a large number of cadres to the area in order to block the military movement. The military’s Forward Defence Line (FDL) was located from Ethawatunuwewa to Kokkuthuduwai beach along a 12 kilomtres stretch. The fighting is now taking place at the LTTE FDL – North of Janakapura which is located one kilometre ahead the military FDL. Beyond the military defence is a thick jungle which is an ideal area to operate small teams by the military.

The area is strategically important for the Tigers since there is a road to Alampil (where the Sea Tiger have their base) from Kokkuthuduwai. And again there is a road leading from Kokkthuduwai to Kolamunai junction through Nayaru lagoon. All these roads lead to Mullaitivu town, which is the second last major town that the LTTE controls. Considering the importance of this area the rebels would intensify their efforts to prevent military movements.

Another development is that the rebels have locally manufactured 60 mm, 81 mm and 82mm mortars shells. The 60 mm shell called ‘Ragawan’ can be fired some 1200 metres and carries several kilograms of explosives. With the cut off from the main sea supply routes, the Tigers are compelled to manufacture their own shells for the mortars. Earlier they melted Aluminum Potts to manufacture mortar shells named ‘Baby mortar’.

Intelligence officers reluctant

Colombo Security in danger due to reluctance of Intelligence officers to operate Despite orders from the Defence Ministry, intelligence officers based in Colombo are reportedly reluctant to carry out their duties following the crack –  down of Special Task Force and Air Force intelligence officers’ activities by the Criminal Investigations Department, resulting in an increase of LTTE activities in Colombo and its suburbs.

The recent series of bomb blasts in Colombo displayed the LTTE’s capability to carry out attacks in the City of Colombo and the suburbs at short notice.

Despite heavy security checking the Tigers proved that they are in a position to carry out attacks against any place or target.

Several intelligence officers of the Special Task Force who had been arrested and detained for at least six months by the CID without any proper charges were recently released by the Courts.

Considering these issues, the relevant authorities should take immediate action to prevent the occurrence of such situations so that concerned officers will not become frustrated and lose motivation to pursue covert intelligence gathering operations.

Indian and Maldivian war-ships berth in Colombo

Indian Naval ship ‘Sukanya’ and Maldivian National Defence Force Ship CGS “Huravee’ are now in the Colombo harbour on a good-will mission.

The Offshore Patrol Vessel – INS ‘Suknaya’ is currently based on the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy, at Viskhapatnam. The ship is 101.95 metres long with 192 displacement and 11 metre beam. The crew consists of 100 officers and sailors. She is capable of operating medium sized helicopters too. INS ‘Sukanya’ is tasked with the patrolling and protection of off shore assets, surveillance of the Indian exclusive economic zone and providing logistical support.

She has her own memories of visiting Sri Lanka twice, once for tsunami relief activities and operations from 27th to 31st December 2004 when the coastal areas of the country were devastated by the Boxing day tsunami on 26th December 2004, and the next tie was in 2006 on a goodwill mission.

MDNF naval Vessel CGS ‘Huravee’ is an offshore patrol vessel that is 46 metres long. She too has visited Sri Lanka once before in October 2007. The visits of these naval and defence force vessels will further strengthen the ties among the three nations and navies. Both Ships would leave the Colombo Port today.

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India said it was taking new measures to curb the activities of Sri Lankan Tamil rebels in the south of the country.”The government has taken various steps to check the activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the southern part of the country. The government has declared LTTE a terrorist organisation under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevenion) Act,” Junior Interior Minister, Sriprakash Jaiswal told Indian Parliament on Wednesday.

He said a three-tiered system of coastal patrolling and protection by the Indian navy, coast guard and Coastal Security Group of the Tamil Nadu state was operating around the clock to check possible intrusion by the militants and smuggling of contraband by the LTTE. “The federal government has approved a coastal security scheme for coastal areas, including southern parts of the country, to strengthen the infrastructure for patrolling and surveillance of coastal waters,” Jaiswal said.

He said a constant vigil was being maintained within the mainland to check possible activities of the LTTE while cases were being registered against the group.

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NGO secretariat under the Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare introduced an automated data base system for operations in the NGO sector including registration supervision, monitoring, visa and work permit matters and other activities concerning the NGOs.

The data base was developed by the Computer School of University of Colombo and funded by the Asia Foundation. Institutions such as Districts Secretariats, Division Secretariats including Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions in overseas which directly deal with NGOs will be linked through this automated system.

This system also will provide facilities for volunteer organizations to upload their action plans online, at the beginning of the year, and the progress reports quarterly. Information uploaded by the NGOs will be certified by the district Co-coordinating Committees, chaired by Government Agents. A ceremony was held on Tuesday at the Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare at Sethsiripaya, Battaranaulla, to mark the donation of 36 computers and peripherals by the World Vision Organization for automation of the activities of the NGO secretariat.

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  • Suicide bomber blasts himself during operation
  • Police foil major plot in the city, powerful claymore mines recovere

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A major LTTE operation in the city may have been foiled following yesterday’s recovery of a cache of high-powered explosives including two suicide jackets during a search operation in Modera just minutes after a suicide cadre blew himself up inside a house in the area, police said.

The blast killed the bomber and injured seven people including a woman Sub Inspector and two constables.

Among the injured civilians were two women passers-by.

The blast took place when the police surrounded a partially built three-storey house where an LTTE suspect was said to be hiding and the police officers broke into the second floor room after the person inside refused to open the door.

Army Spokesman Udaya Nanayakara said the military launched the search operation in Modera following a tip-off by a vigilant neighbour. The suicide bomber identified as Sharni Vivendra (26) a resident of Vavuniya appeared to have been alone in the house at the time and was known to have worked as an electrician.

He had come to Colombo with his relatives who had subsequently returned to Vavuniya.

Two police teams were deployed to investigate the incident.

The Defence Ministry said the body of the bomber was badly disfigured in the explosion while iron ball-bearings could be seen strewn all over the room.

The Ministry praised the civilian whose vigilance led to the discovery of the bomber’s hideout thus foiling an attempt by the suicide bomber to commit a dastardly crime in the South.

Meanwhile, soon after the blast the army and police launched a search operation in the Modera area and recovered a cache of high powered explosives including two 20 kg and four 5 kg claymore mines, two suicide jackets, four type-82 grenades, 50 pistol ammunition, two remote controls and other material.

The latest incident came two days after the LTTE claimed eight civilians were killed in two claymore attacks inside rebel territory and blamed the army deep penetration unit for the incident. In both instances the victims were travelling in a tractor-trailer to work in the paddy fields, the LTTE peace secretariat said. The military however denied any involvement in the attacks.

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Muttusamy Ilankoowan, a suspect with alleged LTTE links now under arrest yesterday revealed vital information about Tiger activities when he made a voluntary confession before a Colombo Magistrate.

Ilankoowan who owns several vessels made a detailed confession before Additional Magistrate Ravindra Premaratne in his Chamber after he was escorted to Courts under heavy guard.

He had revealed details about activities and movements of Tiger leaders, his involvement with the LTTE hierarchy and the role he played within the movement.

Ilankoowan who is a Singapore citizen is said to be the second in command to Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP and his confidante in the Marine unit.  He has had in his possession photographs taken with top LTTE leaders.

It is alleged that Muttusamy Ilankoowan had represented the LTTE in the international market to purchase weapons and fire arms.

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