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Archive for December, 2008

Another LTTE held village in the Mullaithiv district, Ampakamam, was captured by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on today (15th) morning. Ampakamam was an strategically important village for the LTTE and it was used for a number of military purposes including cadre movement and logistics transport. Small attack teams from VIR (Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment), SR (Sinha Regiment), SLLI and GR (Gajaba Regiment) attached to the Task Force 03  have been targeting LTTE fortifications in Ampakamam for a few days until the tigers were left with no choice but to flee.

Meanwhile, several pro LTTE media have been celebrating ‘victories’ achieved by the LTTE on the Kilinochchi front. One such article claimed that LTTE fighters killed over 120 SLA soldiers and injured another 250 or so troops. Actual SLA casualties are less than half of these figures and the SLA were not pushed back in any of those fronts. Terumurikandy junction is under SLA control even as of this moment. Some humorous articles even suggested that SLA operations were being halted due to shortage of troops. These are not true. The army is actually planning to deploy another new division – The Task Force 05 – to the Wanni theater of battle in the coming days.

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  • Tigers unload weapons on Mullaitivu beaches
  • Navy attacks vessel bringing in weapons

It is no secret that the LTTE continues to receive weapons and other lethal cargo. A Tiger vessel carrying weapons set sail in the direction of Sri Lanka some two weeks ago. This was revealed in this columnist on December 14.

Heavy fighting in Kilinochchi earth bund amidst rain of mortarsThe navy’s destruction last Sunday morning of an LTTE vessel transporting weapons in the seas off Mullaitivu confirms the revelation made in the column.
The cargo vessel had set sail from the direction of the Philippines. Intelligence agencies warned that the ship had been loaded with artillery and mortar shells, along with aircraft fuel while in Indonesia and was sailing towards Sri Lanka. Naval forces on the Eastern seas were put on high alert. Dvoras prowled the seas off the Mullaithivu coast.
On Friday (19th), an Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (U.A.V.) of the Air Force made two reconnaissance flights over Mullaitivu. High definition cameras on board the craft spotted Tiger cadres loading weapons which had been brought over by boat, onto trucks which were parked on the beach. Fighter bombers were dispatched to the location immediately, but the bad weather prevailing at the time made it difficult for the pilots to find their targets.

Meanwhile, the navy spotted a medium sized vessel around two hours after midnight on Sunday morning. The vessel was sailing around 70 nautical miles off Mullaitivu. After ascertaining that the vessel, which was around 25 metres in length, was a Tiger ship transporting weapons, the navy dvoras opened fire. As navy dvoras P.473, P.475, P.481 and P.483 were firing at the vessel, four Sea Tiger attack craft entered the scene. One of them was a suicide craft. The navy claims they sank all four of these craft as well. The navy is still engaged in operations in these seas. The reason is clear. They expect another, much larger vessel transporting weapons to arrive. However, there is no word yet on what happened to the other vessel.
Meanwhile, the army continued with its advance on the Kilinochchi front. They are meeting with stiff resistance from the Tigers. A senior military officer told this column that the Tigers were now using all their strength to defend their remaining territory.

Remaining bastions

“Oddusudan, Mullaitivu, Vetthalaikarni, Elephant Pass, Paranthan and Kilinochchi are the remaining bastions of the LTTE. The LTTE is offering stiffer resistance as we get nearer to these places” said the officer.
Around 6.15 A.M. on the 23, the Tigers launched a massive attack on the army forward defence line at Iranamadu. 400 mortar rounds and 44 artillery shells fell on the positions occupied by troops. “They didn’t fire mortars, they rained them” said a senior military officer in the field.

This forward defence line was occupied by the Tigers a week before. The 574th brigade, led by Lieutenant Colonel Senaka Wijesuriya wrested control of this defence line from the Tigers on the 16th.
As mortars rained down on the troops, the Tigers used a T.55 main battle tank to direct fire at the army defence line. This was the first time in recent times that the LTTE used a tank against the troops.
In the face of Tiger resistance, troops were forced to make a tactical withdrawal from the Iranamadu earth bund.

In the meantime, the 572nd brigade led by Lieutenant Colonel Dhammika Jayasundara managed to capture a 1 km stretch of the Tiger earth bund situated on their way to Kilinochchi west of the A-9 road. The 571st brigade is fighting towards the left of this brigade. Adampan is their theatre of operations. The 571st brigade came under fierce Tiger attack two weeks ago. But, the troops persevered and were able to capture a 2 km stretch of the Adampan earth bund by Monday (22nd). Lieutenant Colonel Harendra Ranasinghe is leading troops on this front.

The 58th division is fighting to capture the Tiger earth bund from Adampan to the Kilali lagoon. This division is commanded by Brigadier Shavindra Silva. Troops of this division captured Sinnaparanthan on Tuesday (23rd). Sinnaparanthan is located on the B.69 Pooneryn-Paranthan road. Paranthan junction is located 6 km from Sinnaparanthan. With the capture of Sinnaparanthan, troops now control the stretch of the Tiger earth bund running from the Jaffna lagoon to the B.69 road.

Fierce battles were fought to capture Sinnaparanthan. Torrential rains turned the open ground ahead of the Tiger earth bund into muddy and difficult terrain. Troops made their way towards the earth bund though they sank knee deep in mud. Tigers are estimated to have fired around 150 mortar rounds on troops at Sinnaparanthan. LTTE’s “Colonel” Swarnam had been directing the battle from just 100 metres of the bund. Intercepted radio communications revealed that the reason for Swarnam to come this close to the battle front was to direct an effort to recover the body of an LTTE Lieutenant Colonel who had been killed in the fighting. However, his body, together with that of five other Tiger cadres fell into the hands of the army. They were later handed over to the LTTE through the ICRC. According to reports reaching from the battlefront, the distance between the 58th division and Paranthan is now 6 km. The capture of Paranthan junction will be a decisive moment in the history of Eelam war IV. If they reach Paranthan, troops will have the option of choosing to move on either Elephant Pass or Kilinochchi.

Capture

Meanwhile, the army’s Task Force 4 was able to capture Nedunkeni barely 24 hours after it commenced operations. Colonel Priyantha Wanniarachchi is leading troops on this front. He was on an official overseas visit when Task Force 4 commenced its operations on Saturday (20th). In his absence, Lieutenant Colonel Priyantha Wijegunawardena led the troops. Task Force 4’s 642nd brigade, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Randula Hathnagoda captured Nedunkeni.

Nedunkeni is in the Mullaitivu district. A number of main roads connect with each other at this location. Oddusudan is located 10 kilometres to the north of Nedunkeni. Oddusudan will be important to troops as they advance towards Mullaitivu.

With Task Force 4 also commencing operations, six fronts are now connected with each other. On the eastern border is Mullaitivu. The 59th division is fighting there. Task Force 4 is to their east. Task Force 2 and Task Force 3 are fighting east of the A-9 road.
The 57th division is engaged in battle at Iranamadu on the A-9 road. The 58th division is the last division connected on this front. Thus, 6 fronts have now been opened in order to capture Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.

Commander-In-Chief Mahinda Rajapaksa claims that the LTTE will be annihilated. He named 2009 as war heroes’ victory year in a meeting with intellectuals at the Presidential Secretariat on the 22nd. In his speech, the President also emphasized that he would not hesitate to ban the LTTE if they failed to release civilians who were trapped in the Wanni.
However, banning the LTTE will have no impact on current military operations. The impact will be on any future peace talks.

The President’s comments are further proof that the government is not prepared to go for any sort of negotiated settlement with the Tigers. Clearly, the objective is to completely crush the LTTE by military means.

293 navy personnel awarded Ranashura and Ranawickrama medals

293 navy personnel were awarded Ranawickrama (R.W.P.) and Ranashura (R.S.P.) medals for acts of bravery performed on the battlefield. The medals were awarded at a ceremony held at the Sugathadasa Stadium on the 20th. Navy Commander Vice-Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda was the chief guest. The navy commander awarded 5 Ranawickrama and 288 Ranashura medals to sailors.

This is the first time in a long while that medals for bravery were awarded to navy personnel. A number of navy officers are also due to receive Weera Wickrama Vibhushana medals for their heroic acts in volunteering to save the lives of others while risking their own. These medals can only be awarded by the President. They are due to be awarded to these officers by the country’s President and Commander-In-Chief Mahinda Rajapaksa at a ceremony in the future.

(Lakbima News)

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  • Navy surveillance lapses allow LTTE to smuggle in military supplies
  • Troops make advances on several fronts, but Tigers also change strategy to defend smaller area

In just three more days, the dawn of 2009, will usher Sri Lanka into a new era though what it portends exactly remains unclear. Throughout the old year, 2008, the ongoing separatist war has remained the major issue to preoccupy the Government and Sri Lankans alike. The country received the most number of references in the media worldwide on this one single issue.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, declared in September that troops “will hopefully take Kilinochchi by December, this year” He told editors, publishers and senior journalists during a meeting at “Temple Trees” that the rest of the north would be taken thereafter though he could not place a time frame.
Last Tuesday, however, he announced that 2009 would be the “Year of Triumph over terrorism.” The latest remarks came during a ceremony where State honours were conferred on one of Sri Lanka’s best-known actresses, Malini Fonseka. Earlier, his military leaders placed deadlines within this year, shifting them from time to time, but earning many a headline in the local and foreign media.

A soldier keeps watch on the Nayaru Lagoon in the Weli Oya sector. It is now under the control of the Army’s 59 Division.

One of the vagaries of Sri Lanka’s two-and-half-decade long separatist war is the different forecasts made by leaders of successive Governments placing different time limits. This is to achieve military objectives. Some even directed military campaigns towards this end. Thus, for Governments, the separatist war has been political stock-in-trade.

Compared to previous regimes, the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration is distinctly different. It can make a bold claim, perhaps justifiably, for being the largest shareholder in the war effort. Since being voted President in November 2005, he has strengthened the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police to unprecedented levels. He has also modernised them to positions that did not exist before by making available new equipment. In 2008, all this has led to an unprecedented transition.

At no time before have the people experienced such a high degree of security consciousness or experienced constraints arising from them. At no time before have there been so many checkpoints and the introduction of new security measures. One such important measure, already formulated, awaits implementation. It will subject all Sri Lankans to body checks at checkpoints or other locations to ascertain whether they are carrying mobile phones that belong to them. It would become illegal to use one registered in another’s name. The delay is because the issue has been challenged in courts.
The exact increase of the armed forces and police cannot be divulged for obvious reasons. However, an aggregate would be well over 300,000. This would include many auxiliary units including the Civil Defence Force. The numbers are growing. It was only last week The Sunday Times (Situation Report) revealed that 32,000 youth responded to the Army’s recruitment drive last year. From January to November this year, it was revealed that the response was 38,000. The increases are the result of wide publicity given to military successes.

Of course, as against this, there have been desertions too. From January to November this year, there have been more than 11,000. Those arrested have been tried before a Military Court Martial and jailed. Those who have surrendered availing themselves of periodic amnesty offers have been punished, re-trained and re-deployed.

A military machine that is growing in numbers requires more equipment. That naturally means more money. With top priority given to the separatist war, the biggest challenge for the Government in 2009 would be funding the mounting defence expenditure. True, the largest budgetary allocation of Rs 177.1 billion in 2009 is for defence, an increase of Rs 11 billion from the current year. As past experience has shown, the allocations have always been exceeded with more money pumped in. Delayed deadlines and resultant counter measures are often the main causes.

This is in the backdrop of a global economic downturn that has already caused ripples in Sri Lanka’s economy. Tourist arrivals have been low and many resorts are complaining of poor occupancy. The tea industry is in the midst of a crisis with exports hitting a new low. Leading corporate bodies and export houses have not been able to pay their employees bonuses or increments this December. Some are worried about the prospect of retrenching staff to stay afloat. The Government itself is mulling over seeking a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

There is no doubt that the ongoing military campaign against Tiger guerrillas has brought about a qualitative change this year. If the guerrillas did dominate vast tracts of territory in the Wanni, the areas have now shrunk. It is now confined to only parts of the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts. However, the question of the existing guerrilla strength remains a critical factor. Senior military officials have claimed periodically that they are much below a mere 5,000.

Official military accounts seen by The Sunday Times have placed the guerrilla death toll for past three months at 902 killed and 681 wounded. The details are: September 209 killed,323 wounded; October 273 killed and 245 wounded and November 420 killed and 113 wounded. Independent verification of these figures is not possible. For reasons that are now obvious, casualty figures of troops cannot be discussed. Suffice to say the numbers are substantial.

Well-informed intelligence sources, however, estimate the guerrilla strength to be anything between 10,000 and 12,000. This is said to include “policemen” and civilians trained in combat. These sources now confirm that the guerrillas who held back their hardcore cadres were now inducting them into battle, sometimes shifting roles from a defensive posture to engaging in counterattacks. This is how the guerrillas resisted a thrust by some 7000 troops who moved on five different fronts to re-capture Kilinochchi on December 16. Both sides suffered heavy casualties in fierce battles.

Senior defence officials argue that a larger strength of troops and police would be required particularly after they re-capture the remaining strongholds of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. The troops are to provide back-up to a string of police stations the Government proposes to set up. This is to be a prelude for the re-settlement of civilians for development activity to begin. All this, naturally will hinge on the re-capture of the remaining areas.

In offering fierce resistance so far, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has demonstrated two significant aspects. One is the fact that they have retained their hardcore strength and thrown them into battle to prevent ceding Kilinochchi. Similarly, the 59 Division’s advance in the Weli Oya sector beyond Mulliyavalai has seen guerrillas shifting positions further northwards. Preparations are being made to defend the coastal village of Chilawattai, which lies south of Mullaitivu. Similar preparations are also being made inland with the re-positioning of artillery guns and mortar locations.

A large number of civilians trained in combat have been deployed in this sector. More snipers had also been assigned new locations. Intelligence sources say the Sea Tigers, Jeyanthan “Brigade” and Sodia “Regiment” has been deployed to fortify the Mullaitivu area.

The other is the fact that the guerrillas have had recourse to continued military supplies. Last week, the Navy claimed it had destroyed a vessel carrying “war like” material together with four Sea Tiger attack craft. Weeks earlier, the Navy had received specific intelligence warnings of guerrilla moves to smuggle in through the northeastern coast military supplies said to include artillery shells, mortars, assorted ammunition among others. Such warnings had given dates and the sea route the vessel would traverse. Yet, they were not successfull in thwarting the guerrilla move altogether.

More details of the sea encounter have now emerged. An authoritative Air Force source told The Sunday Times the guerrillas had smuggled in a ship load of supplies through the coastal village of Vellamullivaikal (north of Mullaitivu) on December 20. They had been packed in large crates and were brought ashore by guerrilla cadres. “We have incontrovertible video evidence of the entire unloading operation. They were placed before last Wednesday’s meeting of the National Security Council,” the source said but declined to elaborate.

Though there is no evidence of four guerrilla attack craft being destroyed, the Navy, with the support of the Air Force, did hit one vessel. Naval craft had fired over 900 rounds at guerrilla boats. However, a second one had slipped through to unload military cargo. Similarly, shipments had also slipped through earlier. This was how the guerrillas used large quantities of mortars during the Army’s five-pronged thrust towards Kilinochchi on December 16. This prompted an Army officer in the Wanni frontlines to say there was a “mortar monsoon,” as reported last week. There were a considerable number of mortar casualties during this encounter.

Since the thrust by some 7,000 troops eleven days ago, there were at least two counterattacks by guerrillas this week. One came in an area between Terumurukandi and Iranamadu on December 20. In fierce battles where both sides suffered heavy casualties, the guerrillas pushed the troops back some two kilometres. Just a day later, on December 22 troops fought back to regain the lost ground though some casualties were suffered. The guerrillas had positioned artillery guns to fire at some locations, which the troops seized.

There were other battlefield gains this week. Troops of Task Force 1 captured a larger area of Kunjiparanthan. This was after they successfully crossed a ditch-cum-bund. From near that location troops of 57 Division moved ahead to gain little ground southeast of the Iranamadu tank. The Task Force 3 regained control of Ampakamam on the Karupattimuruppu-Vaddakachchi Road. South of this road, Task Force 2 regained control of Karuppukutti and Sinna Adampan.

In the Weli Oya sector, troops of the 59 Division advancing northwards regained control of part of the Mankulam-Mullaitivu Road between Muthiyankadukulam and Mulliyawalai. A more significant gain came from troops of the newly created Task Force 4 who were deployed in the western part of the Weli Oya only last week. They re-captured Nedunkerni. Thus, they linked up with forward elements of Task Force 2 advancing from Wanni west to east. Once they formally link up and establish their defences, troops would control a vast, contiguous stretch of territory from Wanni west to east. Weeks earlier, guerrillas had withdrawn from these locations to areas in the immediate outskirts of Mullaitivu to defend that strategic northeastern coastal town. See map on this page for details of gains made by troops.

In the coming weeks, the troops’ main focus will be to re-capture Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu areas. On land, they have virtually placed a siege on them. However, at sea, it has become quite clear that the naval cordons have been ineffective allowing the guerrillas to re-supply and offer stiffer resistance.

This year, the Army has made significant gains to deny guerrillas a long-standing reality. That is to deny them the claim that they dominate two thirds of Sri Lanka’s land area and five sixth of the coastline. It has now shrunk to areas within the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts. However, that is only in terms of dominating territory.

There was no way the guerrillas could have offered resistance on all fronts in a wider area all the time to a sophisticated, modernised Army. They simply do not have that conventional capability. That is why they had fought to delay systematically a troop advance for months, caused economic and human damage. That is why they have now chosen to defend a smaller area with all their reserves and firepower that is renewed periodically with new shipments. It is for this reason that their military capability should not be underestimated.

The words of ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu said more than 2,500 years ago on waging war are still relevant. He noted:

“….When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, the men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardour will be dampened. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength, and if the campaign is protracted, the resources of state will not be equal to the strain. Never forget: When your weapons are dulled, your ardour dampened, your strength exhausted, and your treasure spent, other chieftains will sprint up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however, wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

“Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays. In all history, there is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. Only one who knows the disastrous effects of a long war can realise the supreme importance of rapidity in bringing it to a close. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war who can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on……..”

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his senior military leaders are conscious of these sound realities. That is why he has declared 2009 the “Year of triumph over terrorism.” Hence, beginning next week, all expectations will be on which way the last phase of Eelam War IV is headed.

Army top brass retire

Some of Sri Lanka Army’s senior officers are to retire this week. Among them is Major General Lawrence Fernando, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force (SLAVF). He is also the Overall Operations Commander (OOC), Central Province.

He will be succeeded by Major General Sumith Balasuriya, now Commandant of the Kotalawala Defence University (KDU). No replacement has still been named for OOC, Central Province.

Taking over as Commandant, KDU is Brigadier Milinda Peiris. He has just returned to Sri Lanka after a stint at the National Defence College in India.

Major General G.A. Chandrasiri, Commander, Security Forces, Jaffna (SFHQ-J) will relinquish office. He will be succeeded by Major General Mendaka Samarasinghe. He is currently Overall Operations Commander (OOC) Colombo. Taking over this position is Brigadier Mano Perera, now officiating General Officer Commanding the Army’s 52 Division.

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Intense fighting broke out along the Kilinochchi and Paranthan defences on December 16 as the Security Forces launched their final battle to capture Kilinochchi and Paranthan. The attack continued for the past ten days in the same breath as troops expanded their positions along the Tiger earth bund despite heavy counter attacks by the LTTE.

A heavy barrage of artillery and mortars fell on the Tiger defences and also on the advancing troops as the battlefront took a new turn, most probably due to renewed fire power of the LTTE. However, troops managed to advance into Tiger territory amidst all these obstacles as the weather conditions were improving enabling the troops to face the battle in a better environment compared to the situation that prevailed last week.

What is more significant is that, Task Force I troops under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva continued to take the upper hand in the Paranthan front expanding the 1.5 Kilometre stretch of the earth bund they captured on December 16, in the North of Pooneryn – Paranthan road to more than three kilometres as of yesterday effectively foiling all Tiger counter attacks to recapture it.


Soldiers operating in West of Killinochchi

Troops braved the flooded and muddy terrains in the Paranthan front adjoining the Jaffna lagoon front to expand their positions along the earth bund towards Pooneryn-Paranthan road whilst columns of troops advancing more than three kilometres ahead of the Tiger earth bund captured Sinnaparanthan, one of the important locations ahead of Paranthan.

Troops attached to the 11 Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment under the command of Kithsiri Ekanayake and 17 Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Colonel Kottawatta managed to clinch this victory whilst troops of the 8 Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Colonel Vajira Welagedara expanded the positions on the ditch cum earth bund towards Adampan to the south of Pooneryn-Paranthan road.

With this move Paranthan AG office area came under the control of the troops as they are operating some six kilometres West of Paranthan junction.

The capture of Sinnaparanthan area is vital for the troops as it opens gateways to Paranthan, Kilinochchi and even Elephant Pass which are vital locations for the LTTE at present.

Troops of the Task Force I are now operating in the same area they were operating in 1997 during the Sath Jaya operation to capture Kilinochchi from the Tigers. Therefore, every move by the Task Force I between Kilinochchi and the Jaffna peninsula is vital as they are moving to grab the neck of the Tiger territory that links the body and the head through vital arteries across Paranthan.


Troops in Paranthan front expanding their positions Pictures by Rukmal Gamage

As troops were consolidating their positions in Sinnaparanthan LTTE launched a massive artillery and mortar fire towards the area on Wednesday morning from 5.30 a.m. in their bid to recapture the area.

But it was effectively foiled by Task Force I with the active support given by the Sri Lanka Air Force and directing barrages of artillery and mortar into Tiger positions compelling the Tiger cadres who arrived to recapture the earth bund to flee leaving behind their wounded.

The radars of Task Force I detected that three 130 mm artillery guns located in Iyakachchi area were directing fire towards the defences of the troops whilst 122 mm artillery and 120 mm mortars were falling to the front from the North of Kilinochchi.

It was a clear indication that the LTTE had received fresh stocks of artillery and mortar rounds to intensify their thrust towards the advancing Security Forces. It is apparent that they have managed to unload a significant stock of artillery and mortar on board the medium size Tiger vessel that was destroyed in the sea off Mullaitivu by the Sri Lanka Navy last Saturday morning.

Therefore, it is vital for the Sri Lanka Navy to intensify the patrolling in the narrow stretch of Eastern seas now available for the LTTE to smuggle arms and ammunition into their territory.

Though the LTTE tried to display their massive fire power it seems they have failed to muster the manpower needed to launch counter attacks to recapture the terrain now dominated by the troops. It was because massive number of Tiger cadres fell victim to the Security Forces over the past one week in their bid to halt the advance of the Security Forces.

In the Paranthan front alone troops managed to kill at least 15 Tiger cadres a day by launching assaults on their bunker lines and taking sniper targets.

As troops of the Task Force I headed towards Paranthan, troops attached to the 57 Division under the command of Major General Jagath Dias also made a significant improvement in the battlefront facing Kilinochchi from all directions.

If there were any lapses on the part of the Security Forces during the battle that erupted on December 16 and during the subsequent counter attacks the troops attached to the 57 Division too managed to recapture the Tiger earth bund after the fresh combined operation launched by the Task Force I and the 57 Division on December 22.

The 571 Brigade which faced major drawback on December 16 offensive managed to rise from the ashes as they were able to capture two kilometres of vital section of the earth bund facing the West of Kilinochchi on December 22.

571 Brigade is now under the command of Lt. Colonel Harendra Ranasinghe who earlier acted as the Colonel General Staff of the Task Force I. He replaced Colonel G.V. Ravipriya’ who was appointed as the Commander of the Mannar Area Headquarters.

Monday’s assault on the Tiger defences in the Kilinochchi front turned into a debacle for the LTTE as troops of the 571 Brigade managed to capture two kilometre stretch of the earth bund with minimum number of casualties but causing maximum casualties to the LTTE.

It was at 5.30 a.m. in the morning on Monday that troops attached to 9 Gajaba Regiment under the Command of Lt. Colonel Chandana Somaweera, 4 Sinha Regiment under the Acting Command of Major Wasantha Hewage and the 12 Sinha Regiment under the Command of Major Weerasinghe (the Second in Command of the Sinha Regiment) launched this massive assault on the Tiger earth bund with Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships giving close air support to the ground troops.

Within an hour they managed to capture a two kilometre stretch of the earth bund which is located just five kilometres west of Kilinochchi centre. As they consolidated their positions they managed to foil all counter attacks launched by the LTTE killing at least 50 Tiger cadres ahead of their defences.

As of yesterday troops were in the process of clearing the area ahead of them as LTTE failed to even evacuate the casualties and dead bodies from the area.

The troops attached to the 572 Brigade under the Command of Lt. Colonel Dhammika Jayasundera also managed to move ahead of the Tiger earth bund to establish their defences during December 22 attack.

The troops attached to the 574 Brigade under the Command of Lt. Colonel Senaka Wijesuriya operating in South of Kilinochchi also managed to cause heavy damages to the LTTE.

The earth bund captured by the 574 Brigade on December 16 was recaptured by the LTTE last Saturday in a massive counter attack on the troops operating there.

Though troops had to give up the earth bund intercepted radio transmissions have confirmed that 24 hardcore Tiger cadres were killed and 30 others injured during the fierce battle.

Therefore, after ten days of intense battles the Security Forces have once again taken complete control of the battle in the Kilinochchi and Paranthan battlefront without leaving any doubt about their future moves to capture the de-facto Tiger capital Kilinochchi.

Yet it is not an easy task for the Security Forces as Tigers are preparing for a do or die battle in Kilinochchi as they deploy their hardcore cadres to the front. Therefore, expected more fierce battles will erupt in the Kilinochchi front as they move further interior into the Kilinochchi area which is a matter of only few moves for the troops operating in the edges of build up area.

What is not realised by the LTTE is that they have to strengthen their depleting ranks if they continue to hold their positions inflicting damages to the Security Forces.

As the main battle continues in the edges of Kilinochchi the newly formed Task Force IV under the command of Colonel Nishantha Wanniarachchi managed to capture Nedunkerni in the South of Oddusudan taking a vital area in the Mullaitivu district under their control.

That will definitely pave the way for troops to reach the areas in which LTTE is keeping the innocent civilians as hostages. Though the number of civilians fleeing the Tiger grip see a significant increase, a large number of civilians are yet to be freed by the Security Forces from the Tiger grip.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a fervent appeal to the LTTE to release these innocent civilians giving indications that LTTE would be proscribed if they did not respond.

So it is obvious that exactly a year after withdrawing from the Ceasefire, the Government is heading towards proscribing the LTTE if they continue to harass the Tamil civilians further.

Therefore, the year that dawns next Thursday would be a challenging one for the Security Forces as they are to liberate the entire North from the Tiger grip as predicted by the President.

Therefore, the support of the common masses is vital at this juncture of the war against terror. They are the real strength behind the Security Forces’ victories, as they tolerated each and every hardship to strengthen the hands of the Security Forces.

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People in many countries believe in astrology, but horoscopes have a particularly enthusiastic following in Sri Lanka.

Many consult astrologers when choosing marriage partners, on when to start new jobs, or even to find out the auspicious time to leave their house in the morning. And politicians are said to be heavily influenced by the stars too.

At a wedding hall in Colombo, a bride and groom are sitting on a stage brightly decorated with paintings of Hindu gods. At their feet, several Hindu priests are breaking coconuts and lighting oil lamps, performing rituals to invoke blessings on the couple. The invitation was very precise, the ceremony would take place at what was described as the auspicious time of 1109 local time, as set by astrologers.

It was an arranged marriage, and astrology had been a key factor in deciding whether Vijayaruban and Umaranjini should wed. Their horoscopes had been examined to see if they were compatible. “It matched 85% or something,” said Vijayaruban. “So it is a good thing. Both sets of parents are happy and we are happy.” If the horoscopes had not been so attuned, he added, the family would have tried to find another girl for him to marry.

Astrological passport

Astrologers play a significant role in the lives of Sri Lankan people from the Tamil and Sinhala communities.

Eshwaran Kurukkal is the sixth generation in his family to perform the task, which is combined with priestly duties such as officiating at weddings. He is a member of the Brahmin caste. Every day, but especially on auspicious days, people come to visit him in his consulting rooms in his suburban Colombo house.

The astrologer wears traditional dress – a white sarong with a purple and gold border. He is bare-chested, with gold necklaces and diamond stud earrings. His long hair is pulled back, and his wrists, elbows, shoulders and forehead have three white stripes, marked with powder.

Mr Eshwaran is examining a client’s horoscope, a printed book about the size of a passport. Inside there are sections for name, names of parents, and the positions of the stars and planets at the date and precise time of birth.

Many people keep the documents throughout their lives.

“We think if we didn’t write a horoscope for a child when the child was born, it would be a very big sin,” says Mr Eshwaran. “That is important, more important than a birth certificate.”

Political star gazers

Belief in the stars is widespread in Sri Lanka where people routinely sit down to start work on the first day of a new job at auspicious times set by astrologers.

Even many politicians follow astrology, right up to heads of state.

“[Former president Ranasinghe] Premadasa was very much aware of astrological predictions for him, and would very often make his actions commensurate with that,” says Bradman Weerakoon, who served as secretary or advisor to nine Sri Lankan leaders.

Mr Weerakoon says he is sure that Sri Lanka’s first woman prime minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, was astrologically inclined and that current President Mahinda Rajapaksa is also “perhaps moved that way”.

“I am sure elections, dates of elections and so on are very often set on politicians getting their horoscopes read and finding out what is the best time for them.”

Of the leaders he has encountered, Mr Weerakoon says only opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe does not seem to be inclined towards astrology.

‘Hero king’

It is to astrologer Sumanadasa Abeygunawardene that many politicians have turned.

He says he even advised President Rajapaksa on the auspicious time to leave his house in the deep south to vote in the 2005 elections in which he became Sri Lanka’s leader.

“Twenty-five years back, I said there would be a hero king from Ruhuna, Matara, now he’s the one, we believe, President Mahinda Rajapaksa,” said Mr Abeygunawardene.

“So President Rajapaksa’s horoscope is a powerful one. He is the one who will bring development to the country. He will defeat the enemies and terrorists.”

Mr Abeygunawardene said he had seen the horoscope of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Tamil Tigers.

He said the rebel’s horoscope was more powerful than those of previous Sri Lankan presidents, but Mahinda Rajapaksa’s was stronger still.

Back in the wedding hall, Vijayaruban and Umaranjini were just hoping their marriage would be successful.

Even though they did not know each other very well, they were confident they will have a happy life together.

It was, after all, written in the stars.

(BBC News)

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ආර්ථිකය අඩපණ කිරීමේ වෑයම කොටි සැලසුමක කොටසක්ද?

තමන් යුදමය වශයෙන් පරාජයකට, පසුබෑමකට ලක් ව ඇති බව පිළිගන්නා මුත් දැන් රජයේ ආර්ථිකය කඩා බිඳ දැමීමේ වැඩ පිළිවෙළක් කි‍්‍රයාවට නඟා ඇතැයි ද එමඟින් හමුදාමය කි‍්‍රයාමාර්ග අඩපණ කිරීම තම සැලසුම බවද එල්ටීටීඊ දේශපාලන අංශ ප‍්‍රධානී නඩේසන් පවසා ඇත.

රටේ ආර්ථිකය අඩපණ කිරීම මඟින් ශ‍්‍රී ලංකා රජය උතුරේ ගෙන යන හමුදා මෙහෙයුම් දුර්වල කළ හැකි බැව් රොයිටර් පුවත් සේවයට පවසා ඇති නඩේසන් වැඩි දුරටත් පෙන්වා දී ඇත්තේ ශ‍්‍රී ලංකා රජයට එරෙහිව ගෙන යන සටනේ එක් ප‍්‍රධාන උපක‍්‍රමයක් වශයෙන් රටේ ආර්ථිකය අඩපණ කිරීම තම ඉලක්කය වී ඇති බවත් ය.

යුදමය වශයෙන් කොටි ත‍්‍රස්තවාදීන් දිගින් දිගටම පරාජය ලබන බවත් එම පරාජය ආපසු හැරවීම සඳහා රජයේ ආර්ථිකය අඩපණ කිරීමට කොටි සංවිධානය මෙන් ම ජාතික හා විදේශික බලවේග සියුම් වැඩපිළිවෙළක් කි‍්‍රයාවට නඟමින් සිටින බවත් මීට පෙර දේශපාලන විචාරකයන් පෙන්වා දී තිබිණි.

පරාජයේ මුව විට දක්වා ගමන් කර සිටින කොටි ත‍්‍රස්තවාදීන් රොයිටර් පුවත් සේවයට කැර ඇති ප‍්‍රකාශයෙන් ඉහත කී රාජ්‍ය විරෝධී කුමන්ත‍්‍රණයක් පැවැති බව තහවුරු වන බවත්, රජයට ලැබෙන ආදායම් හා විදේශ ණය ආධාර, ජී.එස්.පී. බදු සහනය වැනි අවස්ථා අහිමි කිරීමට මෙරට ඇතැමුන් විසින් ගෙන ගිය වැඩපිළිවෙළ සමඟ කොටි ත‍්‍රස්තවාදීන් ගේ උපාය හොඳින් සමපාත වන බවත් දේශපාලන ක්‍ෂේත‍්‍රයේ අවධානයට ලක්ව තිබේ.

රොයිටර් පුවත් සේවය සමඟ ඊමේල් මඟින් අදහස් පළ කොට ඇති නඩේසන් එහිදී මූලික වශයෙන් පෙන්වා දී ඇත්තේ යුදමය වශයෙන් ලබන පසුබෑමකට තම සංවිධානය ලක් ව සිටින නමුත් තම ඉලක්කය වන්නේ රජයේ ආර්ථික ව්‍යූහයට පහරදීම බවත් එම සම්මුඛ සාකච්ඡාව උපුටා දක්වන සුඩර්ඔලි පුවත්පත වාර්තා කොට තිබිණ. පහර දිය යුතු තැන් හඳුනාගෙන ඇති බවත් නිසි මොහොතේ අදාළ ප‍්‍රහාර සිදු කරන බවත් හෙතෙම එම සාකච්ඡාවේදී පවසා ඇත.

පෙරට එන රජයේ හමුදාවන්ට මුහුණ දී නොහැකිව පලා යන පරාජිත කොටි ත‍්‍රස්තවාදීන් රටේ ආර්ථිකය අඩපණ කිරීම මඟින් හමුදා ගමන ආපසු හැරවිය හැකි බැව් සිතන්නා සේම මහජන ඡන්දයෙන් බලයට පත් විය නොහැකි ඇතැම් දේශපාලන බලවේග උත්සාහ ගන්නේ රටේ ආර්ථික සංවර්ධනයට බාධා ඇති කොට රජය අසීරුවට ලක්කිරීම බවත් පෙන්වා දුන් රජයේ ඉහළ නියෝජිතයකු තවදුරටත් කියා සිටියේ මේ දෙපිරිසම සිදු කරන රහසිගත වැඩපිළිවෙළේ මූලික අරමුණ ත‍්‍රස්තවාදයට එරෙහි හමුදාමය මෙහෙයුම් අඩපණ කොට එල්ටීටීඊය රැකගන්න අතරම රජය ආර්ථික අතින් අසීරුවට ලක්කිරීම බවත් ය.

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2008 ආරක්ෂක හමුදාවන්ට ජයග‍්‍රාහී වසරකි. වන්නි සටනේ සුවිශේෂ ජයග‍්‍රහණ රැසක් ආරක්ෂක හමුදාවන්ට ලබාගත හැකිවිය.

පෙබරවාරි 28

මන්නාරම දෙසින් ඉදිරියට ගිය 58 වන සේනාංකය විසින් යෝධ වැව බලය මුළුමනින්ම අත්පත් කරගන්නා ලදී.

අපෙ‍්‍ර්ල් 25

කතෝලික බැතිමතුන්ගේ පූජනීය ස්ථානයක් වන මඩු දේවස්ථානය සති ගණනාවක සටනකින් පසු 57 වන සේනාංකය විසින් මුදා ගන්නා ලදී.

අපෙ‍්‍ර්ල් 30

58 වන සේනාංකය විසින් ලීමා බේස් හා වෙප්පන්කුලම් මුදාගන්නා ලදී.

මැයි 09

58 වන සේනාංකය විසින් මන්නාරම අඩම්පන් නගරය මුළුමනින්ම අත්පත් කරගන්නා ලදී.

මැයි 29

59 වන සේනාංකය විසින් මුලතිව් හි මූනක්කම් බේස් කඳවුර මුදාගන්නා ලදී.

ජූනි 26

57 වන සේනාංකය විසින් මන්නාරම පෙරියමඩු ප‍්‍රදේශයේ බලය මුළුමනින්ම තහවුරු කරගන්නා ලදී. එය මඩු ප‍්‍රදේශයෙන් පසු එල්ටීටීඊයේ ශක්තිමත් කඳවුරකි.

ජූනි 27

58 වන සේනාංකයේ 1 වන කාර්ය සාධක හමුදාව විසින් මන්නාරම ආන්දන්කුලම් නගරයෙන් බලය අල්ලා ගන්නා ලදී.

ජූනි 28

58 වන සේනාංකය විසින්ම මන්නාරම පරප්පකඩන්තන් ප‍්‍රදේශයේ ශක්තිමත් එල්ටීටීඊ කඳවුරක් වූ බානුබේස් කඳවුර අත්පත් කරගන්නා ලදී.

ජූනි 28

ඉතා සශ‍්‍රීක ප‍්‍රදේශයක්ව තිබූ ඓතිහාසික සහල් නැලිය ප‍්‍රදේශයේ සම්පූර්ණ බලය 58 වන සේනාංකය විසින් අත්පත් කරගන්නා ලදී.

ජූලි 4

මුලතිව් වනාන්තරයේ ප‍්‍රබල කොටි කඳවුරක් වූ මයිකල් බේස් මුදාගැනීම 59 වන සේනාංකය විසින් සිදුකරන ලදී.

ජූලි 16

බටහිර වෙරළේ ඉතා ශක්තිමත් මුහුදු කොටි කඳවුරක් හා සැපැයුම් මධ්‍යස්ථානයක් වන වෙඩිතලතිව් දරුණු සටනකින් පසු 58 වන සේනාංකය විසින් අත්පත් කරගන්නා ලදී.

ජූලි 20

මන්නාරම තවත් ප‍්‍රබල කොටි මර්මස්ථානයක් වන ඉලුප්පු කඩවායි මුදාගන්නා ලදී.

ජූලි 22

තුනුක්කායි හා උයිලන්කුලම් මුලතිව් දිස්ති‍්‍රක්කයේ තවත් කොටි කඳවුරු දෙකක් 57 වන සේනාංකය විසින් අත්පත් කරගන්නා ලදී.

ජූලි 27

මුලතිව් වන් ෆෝ බේස් කඳවුරු සංකීර්ණයේ සුගන්ධන් බේස් 59 වන සේනාංකය විසින් මුදාගැනීම.

අගෝස්තු 2

මන්නාරමේ වෙල්ලන්කුලම් ගම්මානය කොටින්ගේ තවත් ශක්තිමත් කඳවුරකි. දරුණු සටනකින් පසු 57 වන සේනාංකය එය මුදාගත්හ.

අගෝස්තු 11

එල්ටීටීඊ මුහුදු සැපැයුම් ජාලය තවත් දුර්වල කරමින් 58 වන සේනාංකය විසින් මන්නාරම කල්ලෙකුඩා ජැටිය මුදාගැනීම.

අගෝස්තු 13

57 වන සේනාංකය සේනාංකය විසින් කල්විලාන් හා මුලන්කාවිල් කොටි කඳවුරු දෙක මුදා ගන්නා ලදී..

අගොස්තු 17

මුලතිව් ජීවන් බේස් කඳවුර ද දැඩි සටනකින් පසු 59 වන සේනාංකයට යටත් විය.

සැප්තැම්බර් 2

ප‍්‍රභාකරන්ගේ බිරිඳ මදිමදිනිගේ උපන් බිම වන මල්ලාවි කොටි පරිපාලන මධ්‍යස්ථානය 57 වන සේනාංකය විසින් කොටි ග‍්‍රහණයෙන් මුදාගන්නා ලදී.

සැප්තැම්බර් 22

58 වන සේනාංකය විසින් බටහිර වෙරළේ පාසරායි මුහුදු කොටි කඳවුර මුදාගන්නා ලදී.

ඔක්තෝබර් 20

වන්තේරිකුලම් කොටි කඳවුර 58 වන සේනාංකය සතුවිය.

ඔක්තෝබර් 28

බටහිර වෙරෙළේ තවත් කොටි කඳවුරක් වන නොච්චිමොඩයි මුදාගන්නා ලදී.

ඔක්තෝබර් 29

බටහිර වෙරළේ ප‍්‍රබල මුහුදු කොටි සැපැයුම් මධ්‍යස්ථානයක් හා මුහුදු කොටි කඳවුරක් වන නාච්චිකුඩා ඉතා දරුණු සටනකින් පසු 58 වන සේනාංකය විසින් අත්පත් කරගන්නා ලදී. එදිනම ඊට පරිවාරක කඳවුරක් වූ ජෙයපුරම් ද හමුදාව සතුවිය.

නොවැම්බර් 11

මුලතිව් දෙසින් ඉදිරියට ගිය 59 සේනාංකය තුමුලමුනෙයි ගම්මානයේ කොටසක් අත්පත් කරගන්නා ලදී.

නොවැම්බර් 13

පුනරීන් කඳවුරට ආසන්නයේ පිහිටි යක්තුඩුව හා වල්ලෙයිපාඩු මුහුදු කඳවුරු 58 වන සේනාංකය විසින් අත්පත් කරගැනීම.

නොවැම්බර් 15

බටහිර වෙරළේ අවසන් මුහුදු කොටි කඳවුර වන පුනරීන් ඉතා දරුණු සටනකින් පසුව අත්හැරීමට එල්ටීටීඊ යට සිදුවිය. 58 වන සේනාංකය විසින්ඒ32 පුනරීන් – මන්නාරම මාර්ගයේ බලය මුළුමනින්ම අත්පත් කරගන සටන ජයග‍්‍රහණය කිරීම.

නොවැම්බර් 29

59 වන සේනාංකය මුලතිව් දෙසට යමින් ඔටියමලේ කන්දේ පිහිටි කොටි බංකර් හා සැඟවුම් ස්ථාන සියල්ල දරුණු ගරිල්ලා සටනක් ජයග‍්‍රහණය කරමින් අත්පත් කර ගැනිණි.

දෙසැම්බර් 01

57 වන සේනාංකය විසින් කිලිනොච්චි නගරයට දකුණින් වූ තවත් කොටි පාලන මධ්‍යස්ථානයක් වූ කොකාවිල් නගරය අත්පත් කරගන්නා ලදී.

දෙසැම්බර් 04

9 වන සේනාංකය විසින් මුලතිව් හී අලම්පිල් මුහුදු කොටි කඳවුර අල්ලා ගැනීම. මෙහි තිබී කොටි බෝට්ටු 100 ක් ද සොයා ගැනිණි.

දෙසැම්බර් 04

පුලියන්කුලම කොටි බල ප‍්‍රදේශය ද 2 කාර්ය සාධක හමුදාව විසින් අල්ලා ගන්නා ලදී.

දෙසැම්බර් 05

57 වන සේනාංකය විසින් කනකරායන් කුලම් වැව් ප‍්‍රදේශය මුදාගන්නා ලදී.

දෙසැම්බර් 06

59 වන සේනාංකය විසින් නැඟෙනහිර වෙරළේ කොටි බලය අඩපණ කරමින් චෙම්මලේ හා නයාරු කලපුව මුළුමනින්ම යටත් කොට අත්පත් කර ගැනීම.

දෙසැම්බර් 14

කිලිනොච්චි දෙසට ඊට දකුණින් මෙහෙයුම් කරන 3 වන කාර්ය සාධක හමුදාවඒ9 මාර්ගයේ ඉදිරියට යමින් කිරුමුරිකණ්ඩි නගරය අල්ලා ගන්නා ලදී.

දෙසැම්බර් 16

වන විට පරන්තන් දෙසින්, බටහිර දෙසින් කිලිනොච්චි බලා ඇදෙන 57 හා 58 සේනාංක කිලිනොච්චි මහා පස් බැම්ම පස් පොළ කින් බිඳ දමමින් කිලිනොච්චි ජනාවාස ප‍්‍රදේශයට ප‍්‍රවිෂ්ට විය.

දෙසැම්බර් 17

59 සේනාංකය මුලතිව් දෙසට පියවර නඟමින් මුල්ලියාවේලි දකුණු ප‍්‍රදේශය අල්ලා ගත්හ.

දෙසැම්බර් 21

ප‍්‍රහාරයන්ට අලුතින් යෙදවූ 4 වන කාර්ය සාධක හමුදාව එල්ටීටීඊයේ තවත් සැපැයුම් මංසන්ධියක් වූ නැදුන්කර්නි නගරය අල්ලා ගත්තේ මුලතිව් හා කිලිනොච්චි අතර ඔවුන් ගේ සැපයුම් මාර්ග තවත් අඩපණ කරමිනි.

දෙසැම්බර් 23

පරන්තන් වලට කි.මී. පහක් බටහිරින් ඒ 35 මාර්ගයේ පරන්තන් නගරයට පිවිසෙන දොරටුව බඳු සින්න පරන්තන් හෙවත් පුංචි පරන්තන් 58 වන සේනාංකය විසින් අත්පත් කර ගන්නා ලදී.

එදිනම අම්පගාමම් වලට උතුරින් මානකුලම් නගරයට කි.මී. 15 ඊසාන දිගින් වූ පළලින් මී. 10ක් දිගින් මීටර 200 ක් වූ ගුවන් පථයක් සොයා ගන්නා ලදී.

මෙය හමුදාව සොයාගත් කොටින්ගේ තෙවැනි ගුවන් පථයයි.

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