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Archive for May, 2008

Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels condemned government moves to devolve more power to the north and east as they reported killing 31 troops in fresh fighting, according to a pro-rebel website Saturday.

The head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) political wing, B. Nadesan, said the plan under which the government recently held local elections in former rebel-held areas contained “no basis for a settlement.”

“Recognition of Tamil sovereignty and right to self-determination are key issues in creating a climate for a negotiated settlement,” he told Tamilnet.com in interview.

He also accused Colombo of blocking peacebroker Norway from meeting LTTE leaders by refusing to provide access to rebel-held areas. The defence ministry bars media, aid workers and diplomats from travelling to rebel-held areas, citing safety concerns.

Sri Lanka’s main financial backers — the United States, Japan, the European Union and Norway — should keep up their peace-building work, Nadesan said, urging Colombo to allow diplomats to meet LTTE representatives.

His statements came as a senior Sri Lankan official accused the LTTE of showing no signs of wanting peace.

“We are looking for a negotiated end to this conflict… so far they have shown no inclination to enter into any constructive dialogue,” Palitha Kohona, secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on the sidelines of a security summit in Singapore.

“The LTTE is free to come back to the negotiating table but… must do so genuinely with a commitment to negotiating a sustainable peace and for that it must also leave aside its weaponry,” he said.

Despite rebel opposition, the Colombo-based government has been moving ahead to devolve more power to Tamil regions in the Sinhalese-majority island.

The Tigers launched their battle for a separate Tamil state in 1972 in the north and east and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.

Fighting has escalated sharply since Colombo exited from a Norwegian brokered ceasefire in January, believing it could crush the rebels militarily.

After ejecting the LTTE from its eastern bastion last July, the government held polls on May 10 to allow residents to elect their own representatives to run the local administration.

The polls were part of a limited devolution plan put forward in January that the government has described as a way to resolve Tamil complaints of domination by the Sinhalese-led central government and as a step toward ending the war.

The government has pledged to bring development and devolution to areas “liberated” by government forces. However critics say the plan does not offer enough autonomy to the areas as it even allowed the Colombo government to pick the east’s chief minister.

Campaigning on a pro-government ticket, the former rebel breakaway TMVP won a majority to run the multi-ethnic eastern province made up of Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese.

The LTTE political chief said the Tamils have no interest in Colombo’s devolution plans and accused President Mahinda Rajapakse of “paying lip service” to a political solution while pursuing war.

He also dismissed Colombo’s charges that the LTTE were behind a string of bomb attacks that killed at least 32 people and injured over 100 this month.

Meanwhile, the Tigers said they repelled an army advance into rebel-held areas of Vavuniya and Mannar on Friday, killing 31 troops and wounding at least 52 in several clashes, Tamilnet.com said said.

Fighting is now centred around the north as government troops try to regain vast swathes of land under rebel control.

Rajapakse has said he plans to conduct local polls and devolve power to people in the north once troops regain control of that region.

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Sri Lankan troops have captured a Tamil Tiger base in the island’s north after three days of heavy fighting which left seven guerrillas and one government soldier dead, the defence ministry said Friday.

It said ground troops captured “Munagam Base,” situated six kilometers (four miles) north of the frontlines in the Weli Oya region, on Thursday.

“The base had been used by terrorists as a back-up to launch attacks on troops,” the ministry said.

The ministry, whose claims cannot be verified due to a ban on reporting from frontline areas, said other clashes in the Vavuniya area in the north also left four Tiger rebels dead and government five soldiers injured.

There was no immediate comment from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are fighting for a separate homeland for minority Tamils from the majority Sinhalese community.

Thursday’s fighting raises to 3,954 the number of rebels the government says it has killed since January. The ministry says 300 soldiers have died over the same period.

Fighting has escalated sharply since Colombo pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire in January.

Tens of thousands have died on both sides in over three decades of bloodshed.

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Tamil Tiger bosses are frustrated with poor fundraising in Canada and the United Kingdom, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police sting operation has uncovered. The National Post had reported yesterday that “In one communique, a senior rebel boss complained that Canadians were not doing enough to support the fight.’

The National Post further states that “Colonel Soosai, who commands the rebel navy wing known as the Sea Tigers, told three Canadian Tamil activists he was frustrated about the “insufficient activities of the branches in Canada and England,” according to a 12-page report.

The Tigers had been “expecting a huge sum” of money and Tamil activists should “act accordingly,” says the document, written by the Tamil Tigers International Coordination Centre but seized by RCMP counter-terrorism officers in Toronto, the newspaper said.

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The 58 Division overran a large section of the LTTE’s Forward Defence Line at Nedunkandal North in Mannar today killing 7 LTTE cadres, reliable sources in the Mannar Command told DefenceWire. The operation resulted in the capture of 300 meters of defences including trenches, pill boxes and mounds of earth.

In fighting yesterday, MI24 helicopter gunships targeted an explosives dump at Nedunkandal West killing 10 LTTE cadres and an LTTE explosives expert (IED) from the Malathi Unit. The woman, identified by the nom de guerre ‘Dhora’ was inside the explosives dump at the time of the attack.

Tigers, while removing pieces of the bodies, including those of Dhora’s had lamented on her death via the radio, further indicating her prominence. Mannar is one of the most heavily booby trapped frontlines in the current war.

Meanwhile three civilians undergoing emergency surgery following yesterday’s train bomb succumbed to their injuries, thus increasing the number of civilian dead to 9.

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The 57 Division has advanced upto the general area Mallavi and Thunukkai in the Mullaithivu District, a distance of 45kms into LTTE controlled areas by this evening. The capture of Palampiddi has opened-up the new front in Mallavi, which is a popular route of the Tigers from Mullaithivu to Kilinochchi. As it stands now, the Army is in control of 600km2 in Vavuniya North.

The Army says that since the formation of the 58 Division, around 2000 LTTE cadres have been killed by that Division in the Mannar sector alone. In today’s fighting, 58 Division snipers sniped and killed four Tigers in Nedunkandal.

6 and 8 Gemunu Watch (GW) have started consolidating the newly captured 300m FDL of the LTTE in the general area Nedunkandal North. The Tiger FDL was decimated by Army Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) yesterday. Gemunu Watch troops were able to discover a large underground bunker at Nedunkandal North.

The 40-foot-deep bunker was the largest ever captured since the start of this war. Troops believe it has sheltered senior LTTE leaders from artillery barrages and air-raids. The underground bunker had been abandoned by the Tigers after yesterday’s raid by the SLA.

Meanwhile around 4000 soldiers who deserted their ranks and file have rejoined the Sri Lanka Army. They have taken advantage of the general amnesty declared by the Army, which will end on the 31st of this month.

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Nothing worries a person more than the feeling that he has no chance of succeeding in life. One may come to terms with a bad hair day or two, but what about two decades of failure? That is too much for one to resign oneself to. What one is in for finally when an enterprise one has invested one’s whole life in teeters on the verge of collapse is frustration. This has been Prabhakaran’s predicament. His two-and-a-half decade long struggle has taken him nowhere near his goal. The dark empire for the establishment of which he destroyed so many lives is crumbling before his own eyes. Its eastern wing is already gone and there has emerged a popularly elected new leader! The LTTE is being encircled on several fronts in the Wanni with his trusted lieutenants falling one by one. He is getting beaten at his own game, something he may have considered impossible in the heyday of his terror.

A wick is said to burn brighter the closer it gets to its end. So, a high incidence of savage terror strikes on civilian targets at the behest of Prabhakaran is something to be expected at this juncture. He may step up attacks like the one at Dehiwala on Monday in a desperate bid to prevent his slide towards disaster. He is scared, frustrated and confused. Such men are capable of anything.

Prabhakaran knows there is a limit to his holding out against the military in the Wanni. He cannot go on fooling his cadres forever. They will realise the truth when they begin to buckle under pressure sooner or later.

This country has proved to be extremely resilient vis-`Eo-vis terrorism. It has learnt to live with it thanks to inoculation against terrorism courtesy of Prabhakaran who keeps administering booster doses from time to time. Even if he were to blast one thousand more civilian targets, he wouldn’t get his Eelam.

His barbarism only steels this country to fight back. Else, he would have achieved his goal a long time ago. There are no new targets for him to take. He has attacked almost all nerve centres and killed a large number of political and military leaders including a President, a foreign minister, a Navy Commander and an umpteen number of high ranking military officers. He has bombed economic and military facilities even from the air. But nothing worked for him!

Security forces suffered many debacles in the past. They lost camps, fleets of planes and ships, men and material. But, they have bounced back and turned the tables on the LTTE. Prabhakaran, who was once able to get thousands of volunteers for his call to arms is hard put to recruit combatants. Today, he is forcibly recruiting children, men, women and even the elderly people as cannon fodder. He is creating conditions for a mass uprising against LTTE terrorism in the Wanni.

The military and the police are never short of recruits. There are thousands of youth willing to enlist and serve in the conflict zone. The national economy is far from ruined. It is capable of absorbing defence expenditure and shocks.

So, what has Prabhakaran achieved all these years? His organisation is on the defensive clutching at the straw of human rights and hoping and praying for a deus ex machina. Unless help comes from abroad in the form of foreign pressure on the government to call off the military operations-which is very unlikely, given India’s stand-he will be done for.

Yesterday, addressing a meeting of editors and electronic media heads President Mahinda Rajapaksa vowed to go ahead with his military campaign at any cost until the LTTE was defeated, according to a report in this newspaper today. He must be having reasons for being so confident. His pronouncement demonstrates that Prabhakaran’s terror strikes have not had the desired impact on the State.

The President also asked Prabhakaran to target him and not innocent people. (His words hark back to the late President Premadasa’s plea to the JVP at the height of its violence in the late 1980s.) But, Prabhakaran will never be weaned away from turning to soft targets as he is hooked on bloodletting.

What Prabhakaran is doing at present could be likened, as we have said in these columns previously, to a university graduate going back to kindergarten to start education all over again. Having started his struggle by killing civilians and blasting trains and buses, he has had to resort to the same tactics to keep his movement going even after one quarter of a century!

Many were the opportunities he missed because of his hubris along the path of terror he has trekked. He used to be India’s blue-eyed boy and was in a position to be the chief minister of the North and East or to reign supreme in the North, which former President Kumaratunga offered him for ten years without elections.

Attempts are being made in some quarters to prop him up. But, that is an exercise in futility. He is no longer capable of achieving his Eelam. He can only kill civilians in the name of liberation.

What a comedown for a ‘liberator’!

Courtesy: The Island

Read Full Post »

Nothing worries a person more than the feeling that he has no chance of succeeding in life. One may come to terms with a bad hair day or two, but what about two decades of failure? That is too much for one to resign oneself to. What one is in for finally when an enterprise one has invested one’s whole life in teeters on the verge of collapse is frustration. This has been Prabhakaran’s predicament. His two-and-a-half decade long struggle has taken him nowhere near his goal. The dark empire for the establishment of which he destroyed so many lives is crumbling before his own eyes. Its eastern wing is already gone and there has emerged a popularly elected new leader! The LTTE is being encircled on several fronts in the Wanni with his trusted lieutenants falling one by one. He is getting beaten at his own game, something he may have considered impossible in the heyday of his terror.

A wick is said to burn brighter the closer it gets to its end. So, a high incidence of savage terror strikes on civilian targets at the behest of Prabhakaran is something to be expected at this juncture. He may step up attacks like the one at Dehiwala on Monday in a desperate bid to prevent his slide towards disaster. He is scared, frustrated and confused. Such men are capable of anything.

Prabhakaran knows there is a limit to his holding out against the military in the Wanni. He cannot go on fooling his cadres forever. They will realise the truth when they begin to buckle under pressure sooner or later.

This country has proved to be extremely resilient vis-`Eo-vis terrorism. It has learnt to live with it thanks to inoculation against terrorism courtesy of Prabhakaran who keeps administering booster doses from time to time. Even if he were to blast one thousand more civilian targets, he wouldn’t get his Eelam.

His barbarism only steels this country to fight back. Else, he would have achieved his goal a long time ago. There are no new targets for him to take. He has attacked almost all nerve centres and killed a large number of political and military leaders including a President, a foreign minister, a Navy Commander and an umpteen number of high ranking military officers. He has bombed economic and military facilities even from the air. But nothing worked for him!

Security forces suffered many debacles in the past. They lost camps, fleets of planes and ships, men and material. But, they have bounced back and turned the tables on the LTTE. Prabhakaran, who was once able to get thousands of volunteers for his call to arms is hard put to recruit combatants. Today, he is forcibly recruiting children, men, women and even the elderly people as cannon fodder. He is creating conditions for a mass uprising against LTTE terrorism in the Wanni.

The military and the police are never short of recruits. There are thousands of youth willing to enlist and serve in the conflict zone. The national economy is far from ruined. It is capable of absorbing defence expenditure and shocks.

So, what has Prabhakaran achieved all these years? His organisation is on the defensive clutching at the straw of human rights and hoping and praying for a deus ex machina. Unless help comes from abroad in the form of foreign pressure on the government to call off the military operations-which is very unlikely, given India’s stand-he will be done for.

Yesterday, addressing a meeting of editors and electronic media heads President Mahinda Rajapaksa vowed to go ahead with his military campaign at any cost until the LTTE was defeated, according to a report in this newspaper today. He must be having reasons for being so confident. His pronouncement demonstrates that Prabhakaran’s terror strikes have not had the desired impact on the State.

The President also asked Prabhakaran to target him and not innocent people. (His words hark back to the late President Premadasa’s plea to the JVP at the height of its violence in the late 1980s.) But, Prabhakaran will never be weaned away from turning to soft targets as he is hooked on bloodletting.

What Prabhakaran is doing at present could be likened, as we have said in these columns previously, to a university graduate going back to kindergarten to start education all over again. Having started his struggle by killing civilians and blasting trains and buses, he has had to resort to the same tactics to keep his movement going even after one quarter of a century!

Many were the opportunities he missed because of his hubris along the path of terror he has trekked. He used to be India’s blue-eyed boy and was in a position to be the chief minister of the North and East or to reign supreme in the North, which former President Kumaratunga offered him for ten years without elections.

Attempts are being made in some quarters to prop him up. But, that is an exercise in futility. He is no longer capable of achieving his Eelam. He can only kill civilians in the name of liberation.

What a comedown for a ‘liberator’!

Courtesy: The Island

Read Full Post »

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