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Archive for June 10th, 2008

Shells across Jaffna lagoon from Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) held areas fell and exploded Tuesday morning on Sri Lanka Army (SLA) bases and sentry points located in the coastal villages of Jaffna lagoon causing panic also among the residents, sources in Jaffna said. Large number of additional soldiers were brought from other areas in Jaffna peninsula and posted along the coastal line of the lagoon from Jaffna Fort to Ariyaalai during the last couple of days.

All schools were closed before noon and children sent home safely.

Information on casualties or injuries is yet to be known.

The residents of Kurunakar, Paasaiyoor, Kozhumpuththu’rai and Ariyaalai, the coastal villages along Jaffna lagoon, within the limits of Jaffna Municipal Council, are gripped in fear due to the shelling and the heavy presence of armed soldiers among them.

A similar shelling immediately after the Chi’ruththeevu Sea Tiger raid on Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) recently had killed six and injured fifteen of the residents of these villages.

This had triggered displacement of families to other areas in the Jaffna peninsula but those displaced had gradually returned to their homes when normalcy returned.

Tuesday’s heavy shelling and the intimidating presence of a large number of soldiers accompanied by military paraphernalia evoking an atmosphere of war aggravate fear among the residents of the coastal villages.

Most of the residents in these villages are contemplating moving out of their homes to safer areas, the sources said.

(Tamilnet)

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Tamil Tigers accused the Sri Lankan government on Tuesday of denying international mediators access to the rebels and said Colombo was not ready for peace talks.

In an exclusive telephone interview with Reuters, S. Puleedevan, Secretary General of the rebels’ Peace Secretariat, also said 20,000 civilians had been displaced in the government’s latest offensive against the Tiger’s northern stronghold.

Sri Lanka’s 25-year civil war reignited in 2006, dealing a blow to tourism and deterring some investors, and fighting between the military and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has intensified since the government annulled a 6-year-old Norwegian-brokered truce in January.

“Sri Lanka armed forces are losing a lot of soldiers … many more (losses) will come if they inch into LTTE territory,” Puleedevan said from the rebel’s stronghold in the north of the Indian Ocean island.

Analysts say the military has the upper hand in the latest phase of the long-running war. The army drove the Tigers out of their eastern enclave last year, but the rebels have held most of their northern territory and hit back with bombings in Colombo.

“The heavy fighting is going on, at the FDL (Forward Defence Line),” said Puleedevan. “We have inflicted a lot of damage for Sri Lankan armed forces. They are unable to gain any territory.”

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, dominated by the Sinhalese majority, has promised devolution and development in recaptured areas, while vowing to destroy the Tigers militarily by the end of the year.

Peace prospects gloomy

Nordic ceasefire monitors quit the country this year after the ragged truce disintegrated, and Puleedevan was pessimistic about the chances of renewed peace efforts, accusing the government of refusing to let Norwegian facilitators meet the rebels.

“We have to first discuss with the facilitators. We want to know what is their thinking. The Sri Lankan government is not ready for that, that’s the problem,” he said.

“The important thing is we need to have one-to-one meetings in person, but the government is not allowing them to visit. They are preventing them.”

Sri Lanka says the rebels were never serious about peace and used the ceasefire to regroup and re-arm.

The Tigers, who are fighting for an independent state in the north and east, said the new offensive in the north has resulted more than 20,000 civilians fleeing their homes in areas where the fighting is heaviest.

“There are a lot of civilians displacements in Mannar and Mullaitivu areas, because of heavy artillery shelling and aerial bombardments,” said Puleedevan. “They are firing artillery and mortars towards the civilian populated areas.”

The protracted civil war has killed more than 70,000 people.

The military say they have killed more than 4,000 rebels this year alone while losing 460 of their soldiers, and that the Tigers have killed 205 civilians so far this year.

Independent confirmation of battlefield casualties is not possible because of lack of access, and military analysts say both sides routinely exaggerate the other’s losses.

(Khaleej Times Online)

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A little known Sri Lankan rebel group claimed responsibility on Tuesday for recent bomb attacks on transport as revenge for what it said were government attacks and aerial bombings on innocent Tamil civilians.

The military has blamed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE) rebels for a series of train and bus blasts in the capital Colombo and central Sri Lanka in which at least 32 people were killed and over 100 wounded. “We want to claim that we are responsible for the bomb attacks on the transport vehicles and other attacks,” Ellalan Force, which the military says is a Tiger-linked group, said in an e-mail to Reuters. Analysts have previously said the LTTE uses front groups it has established to deflect blame for civilian deaths from the mainstream leadership.

The attacks have been carried out as a “stern reply” to the government forces’ Long Range Reconnaissance Petrol (LRRP) attack and aerial bombing on innocent civilians, the Ellalan Force said in the e-mail. “The LRRP attacks and the aerial bombings on Tamil innocent civilians must stop. The Sinhalese must understand (the) situation clearly and think about why the ‘Ellalan Force’ continue their attacks.”

Twenty-six Tamil civilians have been killed in three LRRP attacks and an aerial bombing in rebel stronghold of the Mullateevu area in the north since May 23, the group claimed. The mail also urges Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese ethnic group to put pressure on the government to stop killing innocent Tamils. The military strongly denies any LRRP involvements in killing Tamil civilians. “Our LRRP never attack innocent civilians. LRRP is doing their attacks targeting LTTE cadres with arms,” military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told Reuters.

“Ellalan Force is some LTTE-connected group. They wanted to somehow attack civilians, and get the provocation from the civilian forces and get the international attention for their work,” he said. The pro-rebel http://www.tamilnet.com website claimed the warning had been issued by a “shady force”, but carried the full statement. A roadside bomb exploded near a crowded passenger bus in the Sri Lankan capital on Friday, killing at least 22 people and wounding 47, while an evening bomb in the central Sri Lanka killing two and injuring 20, the military said [nCOL263016].

On Wednesday, a claymore mine targeting a Colombo bound passenger train wounded 27 civilians, while a train bomb blast had killed at least eight people in the capital Colombo on May 26. The fighting between the government forces and rebels, has intensified since early this year, after the government annulled a 6-year Norway brokered truce.

The protracted 25-year bloody civil war has killed more than 70,000 people. The military say they have killed over 4,046 rebels this year alone while losing 460 of their soldiers so far this year, and that the Tigers have killed 205 civilians so far this year. Analysts say the military has the upper hand in the latest phase of the long-running war given superior air power, strength of numbers and swathes of terrain captured in the island’s east. But they still see no clear winner on the horizon.

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The Sri Lanka Army’s ongoing operation into the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) heartland Wanni will be reinforced by two new divisions; the 61 division and the Task Force 2. With the inclusion of new divisions, the total number of SLA divisions taking part in the operation has risen to 7; 53, 55, 57, 58 (TF1) 59, 61 and TF2.

61 division will be commanded by Major General Athula Jayawardena while TF2 will be commanded by Brigadier Ralf Nugera. Already, two brigades of the 61 division ( 61-1 brigade and 61-2 brigade) have been deployed to the Northern front to assist the ongoing operations. SLA hopes to open new fronts in the Wanni battle through the latest deployments.

Meanwhile the LTTE has been blaming the army’s ‘DPU’ for a series of attacks on civilians in un-cleared areas. Sri Lanka Army’s Long Range Surveillance units did carry out several attacks in LTTE held territory during the past month. Special Forces units from the 3rd Special Forces regiment (3SF), Commando units from 3rd Commando Regiment as well as military intelligence corps took part in these attacks. However we have credible information that suggest that none of these attacks harmed civilians in any way. Deep battlespace operations are not easy to perform and each and every such mission has a specific, pre determined target. Being a conventional army, the SLA gains nothing by attacking civilians in deep battlespace ops (or in any other operation as a mater of fact) other than risking the lives of probably the best soldiers in its service. Usually the target of such ops is a senior LTTE cadre, intelligence wing member or a powerful regional leader.

Meanwhile the 59 division moving forward from Weli-Oya front was locked in fierce firefights and artillery duels with the LTTE fighters who are putting up formidable resistance. After the fall of Munagam base last week, LTTE’s major military base in the area, the 1-4 (one-four) base, is now in 59 division’s firing line. Infantry units have breached the forward defence lines in multiple locations during fighting which occurred yesterday and today. 10 SLA soldiers were KIA and a further 35 were WIA in these encounters. LTTE casualties are unknown.

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Army yesterday further advanced its forward defenceline in north of Alankulam in Mannar, by killing a large number of LTTE cadres and capturing a 17-year-old girl alive following a heavy battle, the military said.Military Spokesman, Udaya Nanayakkara said the troops launched a surprise attack on the LTTE and captured their five locations in the forward defencelines.

Ground troops confirmed that nine LTTE cadres and two soldiers were killed and the military recovered three bodies of LTTE female cadres and captured another alive,” the spokesman said.

He also said the captured female LTTE cadre told the military that she was forcibly taken away by the LTTE when she went to the Kovil in Kilinochchi from Jaffna in 2006.

She had been only given one-and-a-half-month armed training and deployed in forward defencelines along with several such underaged children,” the spokesman said.

Action has been taken to hand over the captured female cadre to the Police for further investigations.

Meanwhile, Air Force launched two air-strikes on LTTE bunkers in Mannar and Sea Tiger base in Mullaitivu.

The military said, MI-24 helicopters targeting LTTE bunker lines north of Alankulam in the morning in Mannar, had causd heavy damage to the LTTE.

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