Sri Lanka armed forces on January 25, 2009 achieved a major victory with the capturing of the LTTE’s last main stronghold in the remaining rebel held areas.
Led by Brigadier Nandana Udawatte, the 59 Division, which commenced its operations exactly a year ago, gained this victory against the LTTE further shrinking the area held by the Tigers.
The final assault to capture the Mullaitivu town was launched on January 25. All Brigades of the Division started to move from south of Mullaitivu. The Seven Gemunu Watch and the 15 Ceylon Light Infantry (CLI) based west of Chilawatta area made a sudden movement towards the town area. They moved from south west direction to the town and the Tigers did not expect the troops to advance from that direction.
Soldiers of the 7 GW, who had captured many areas in the Welioya sector made a surprise entry to the town and 15 CLI was stationed at the boundary of the town blocking all access to it.
In the meantime troops of the 593 Brigade led by Colonel Jayantha Gunarathne made a surprise attack across the Nanthikandal lagoon and entered the Mullaitivu town area. Troops of 7 GW led by Lieutenant Colonel Chaminda Lamahewa were the first to enter the town amid heavy LTTE resistance. The Mullaitivu town is situated in a narrow stretch of a land between Nanthikandal lagoon and the Indian Ocean.
Due to this situation, a large number of LTTE cadres and their heavy military hardware had been trapped in a small land stretch between Mullaitivu town and Chilawatta bordering the sea.
Recapturing the Mullaitivu town which had been dominated by the LTTE for the last 13 years mark a significant milestone in the war against LTTE terrorism.
After capturing the town troops launched heavy arms fire towards the area where the LTTE was trapped in north of Chilawatta.
During the mop up operations troops found a massive torture complex and more than 3000 photos of LTTE fighters who were killed during the recent fighting with the military. In the torture camp troops had found several boxes covered with barbed wire in which a person could not properly stand or even sit.
Troops earlier found this kind of places in the Welioya area in the recent past. Still the mop-up operations were continuing and troops were engaged in de-mining the area, a senior ground official said.
They also found a damaged bullet-proof vehicle that would have been used by either Prabhakaran or other senior Tiger leaders. The rugged-looking covered pick up wagon, fitted with double steel sheets to escape bullet hits, was found in thick jungles in Mullaitivu. It is a crude improvised version of a bullet-proof vehicle, unlike the new technologically advanced bullet-proof cars available off the shelf, a senior military official said.
Troops continue to search the area for more recoveries. Now the troops of the 59 Division are stationed just behind the Vadduvakal Bridge in north of Mullaitivu town. The Tigers are continuing to flee in a northern direction.
Three days after the capture of Mullaitivu, the troops of the 58 Division reached the Vishvamadu junction on Wednesday afternoon following hours of fierce fighting. Soon troops gained full total control over the Visvamadu town after initial search and clearing operations conducted in the area on Wednesday evening.
It was reported that the LTTE resisted with heavy artillery and mortar fire, but the multi-frontal military assault of the troops repulsed those attacks and scores of Tigers were killed and many injured during fighting.
Now the troops have also gained control over a 10 km stretch of the road, running North of Vishvamadu via Puliyampokkanai towards Chundikkulam. Troops are also engaged in mopping up the remaining LTTE pockets South of Vishvamadu and Piramanthalkulam. LTTE cadres have further fled towards the declared safe zones at Teravilkulam and Udayarkattukulam.
Troops of the 11 CLI and 10 GR were involved in capturing the Vishvamadu area after fierce fighting with the Tigers.
During the operation troops captured a bomb making facility. The facility had been used to manufacture locally made ‘Arul’ type bombs that the LTTE used in most of the battle.
Vishvamadu is considered as a secret area which the LTTE senior leaders used. Most of their military bases and underground facilities and hideouts had been located in this area. The area was frequently used by LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran as well to hide.
With the capture of Vishvamadu, the military expects a mass exodus of people, who are now getting shelter at the government declared ‘Safe Zone’ in north east of Vishvamadu.
Large LTTE submarine found
Task Force 3 operating in South West of Puthukuirrippu found a camp complex of the LTTE where they had a boat manufacturing yard. Troops recovered at least two small and one large underwater craft similar to a Submarine and several Dvora type boats from the yard.
Troops of 4 CLI of the 631 Brigade attached to the Task Force 3 made this recovery. Ground sources said that there were at least ten luxury type homes and underground bunkers with Air Condition facilities in the complex. The military believes that the LTTE had brought down some foreigners, and given accommodation in these places. They also suspect that these foreigners, who were experts in making underwater crafts were engaged in manufacturing sophisticated submarines. Troops found a finished Submarine some in a large size carrier on wheels. Also small submarines and some 25 feet long Dvora type boats were also recovered from the location.
The entire area had been covered in a large camouflage tent that cannot be identified from even the air as it looks like a part of the jungle.
Earlier there were reports that the LTTE were making submarines posing a threat on the Navies in the Indian Ocean.
In 2006, an LTTE operative was arrested by the US police along with a small submarine while transporting cocaine. Four men, including a Sri Lankan, linked to the LTTE were arrested for trying to smuggle cocaine in a semi-submersible home made submarine.A U.S. Coast Guard cutter spotted them in their semi-submersible boat off the coast of Costa Rica. Boarding crews found 7000 pounds of cocaine and a loaded AK-47.
The LTTE for a number of years have experimented with using submarines. This sort of underwater manned drones can sustain speeds of 25 knots and have a range of 1000 miles in quiet seas.
A few years back authorities in Thailand discovered a specially made submarine. In this submarine a total 10 tons of submerged equipment could be transported. They are subsurface and are not fully undersea crafts. Basically its hull sits in water while a low profile tower can observe surface vehicles.
The Mullaitivu debacle in 1996
On July 18, 1996 the LTTE launched an attack on the Army base at Mullaitivu town after the Tigers planned and trained a group of 4,000 cadres for the offensive. Velupillai Prabhakaran had been personally involved in the planning and coordination of the operation code named ‘Unceasing Waves’.
The Sri Lankan army base at Mullaitivu covered a vast area and was bordered by the sea on one side. The camp occupied an area 2900metres long and 1500metres wide with a perimeter of 8500metres.
This base was the 215 Brigade Headquarters which had no road links to any other garrisons situated in the region. Based there were 7th Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment and the 7th battalion of the Sinha Regiment. On the day of the attack the two most senior officers, the officiating Brigade Commander, then Colonel (later Major General) Lawrence Fernando and his deputy, Lt. Colonel Gunaratne, were away in Colombo on duty leave.
The Tigers launched their assault at 1.30am on the July 18, 1996. After eight hours of heavy fighting, the Tigers reached the centre of the camp after overrunning the forward defense lines and clusters of mini-camps.
The LTTE waited until dark to attack the central base camp, which was the operational headquarters of the 6th Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment.
In order to prevent any attack the Army planned an operation named ‘Thrivida Pahara’ before dawn. The plan called for a relief force to be transported by ship to the sea off the coast of Mullaitivu from Jaffna and to be landed by smaller boats on the coast close to the base. Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Air Force carried out attacks on the LTTE. Due to the delay of the transport of troops by sea, 275 elite commandos from the 1st Special Forces Regiment led by their Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel A.F. Lafir were heli-dropped under heavy LTTE fire and made radio contact with the besieged troops in the Mullaitivu camp.
Despite his wounds Lt. Col. Lafir personally led the attack after landing near Alampil, until his death. Later he was awarded the Parama Weera Vibhushana the highest award for combat bravery in Sri Lanka.
The commandos were reinforced on the 19th when troops began to make a landing by sea under the protection of Sri Lankan Navy’s fast attack craft. But the Sea Tigers attacked the naval force using suicide boats. A large gunboat SLNS Ranaviru was destroyed with its entire crew of 36. After losing this gunboat the landings were halted.
In the evening of July 19, the entire camp fell to the Tigers.
July 24 and 25 saw the troops withdrawing after the higher command had decided to abandon the relief of the destroyed base. This concluded the battle.
During the battle the Sri Lankan military lost at least 1,200 troops. The Sri Lankan Military alleged that 207 soldiers who had surrendered to the LTTE were executed after they were herded together, doused with gasoline, and burned to death.
The LTTE claimed 332 cadres killed. During the battle the LTTE captured significant amounts of weapons and equipment from the base, including a few 120 mm mortars.
Army at the gates of Mullaitivu
The Sri Lankan security forces have reached the final stage of their counter terrorism operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which had lasted for more than two and half decades. They are now just a few kilometres away from the LTTE’s last bastion in the Tigers’ so called ‘Tamil Eelam’.
According to defence sources, the military is trying to end the war by capturing the remaining areas before Independence Day on February 4. Sources said that in the last few days alone a large amount of square kilometres were brought under military control.
On several occasions, senior defence officials hinted that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Independence Day message would announce uniting the country.
During the last week and a half period the security forces showed significant progress as they captured several key LTTE strongholds as well as some of their equipment.By yesterday the Tigers were confined to a triangular shaped land marked by the A-9 road (Kandy-Jaffna) from the West, A-34 road (Mankulam – Oddusuddan) from South and the Northeastern coast from the East. Colonel Aruna Ariyasinghe leading the 591 Brigade under the 59 Division are less than three kilometres away from the LTTE’s last stronghold Mullaitivu, while Lt.Col Jayantha Gunaratne of the 593 Brigade is just two kilometres away from Puthukuduiripu.Troops of the 59 Division, Task Force II, III and IV have reached the southern boundary of Puthukuduirippu while the 57 Division was advancing to Mullaitivu from the east of Kilinochchi. The 58 Division has reached another Tigers’ stronghold Vishwamadu through Murusamodai. The 55 Division, which came from Muhamalai is now operating south of Chundikulam and advancing towards Mullaitivu through the coastal belt.
The 53 Division, which was in Muhamalai is now operating as a reserve division and had been placed in Mankulam and Jaffna to be deployed in any emergency situation in the Wanni battle.
On January 15, the 58 Division led by Brigadier Shavendra Silva captured a key village Dharmapuram east of Paranthan. The village was important as it had several residences belonging to LTTE leaders, the LTTE military operations centre and one of the places where LTTE Leader V. Prabhakaran visited.
This is the first time in the history of the Eelam wars that the government forces have captured this village.Earlier, the troops had only moved up to Murusamudai area during the ‘Sathjaya’ operation, but had not moved beyond that area.
The 583 Brigade led by Colonel Suraj Bansarjaya the 7 Sinha Regiment led by Lt. Col Kithsiri Liyanage, the 11 Light Infantry led by Lt. Col. Kithsiri Ekanayake, the 5 Armour led by Lt. Col Nihal Samarakoon and the 10 Gajaba comanded by Major Janaka Udowita have taken control of this village .
With the sudden attack from the military from all frontiers, the LTTE had fled the village and taken the displaced civilians to Vishwamadu area forcibly..During the fierce battle troops were able to capture three senior LTTE cadres who were members of the LTTE leader’s security unit.
The troops also found a massive fuel storage facility in Dharmapuram during a search operation. They have also found 300 fuel barrels which had been buried by the LTTE.The army said that 300 barrels, containing 225 litres of diesel in each, had been buried in a coconut grove in Dharmapuram .The barrels had been properly sealed and covered with polythene before they were buried and the surrounding area filled with water in order to prevent any damage to the barrels in case a fire broke out. The barrels were buried in a land area of nearly 10 acres. The Tigers had placed booby-traps and explosive devices around the premises.
In the eastern side of Dharmapuram troops found an underground bunker located within the civilian houses. The entrance to the bunker is from a cadjan hut. A staircase descending some thirty feet underground leads to a small hall where over fifty people could stay. The military believed that this hideout had been used by the LTTE to hold meetings and discussions of its top hierarchy.
Currently, the 58 Division, which was marching towards Vishvamadu is now just five kilometres away from the eastern sea.
On January 18, the 571 and 572 Brigades of the 57 Division led by Major General Jagath Dias captured the most populated area next to Kilinochchi in Ramanadanpuram. Located in the east of Kilinochchi, Ramanadanpuram stretches over some seven kilomtres. During the battles, the army captured a leading LTTE female cadre – a self-styled Major of the LTTE. ‘Major Ilakshiya’ is one of the bomb experts of the LTTE and the military believe that she had been deployed in the area to set up bombs against the military.
Meanwhile, Task Force II further advanced their defences by six kilometres from the Muttiyankaddu Tank.
The advancing Task Force -2 troops have captured the Udayarkattukulama tank bund in Mullaitivu, after hours of fierce fighting with the LTTE on Wednesday. Latest military reports, said that Task Force -2 infantry formations have directed a two frontal assault at the LTTE. Scores of terrorists were killed and many injured during the confrontations .The troops are now consolidating defences in the area.
The Task Force-2 soldiers operating east of the Udayarkattukulam tank and the Task Force-3 soldiers operating south of the Vishvamadukulam tank in the Teravil-Odduddan forest reserve have been engaged in heavy confrontations with the LTTE in order to capture the tank bund since last Tuesday.
According to the latest battlefield reports, troops of the 6 Vijayaba Infantry Regiment (6 VIR) belonging to Task Force-2 have sprung an ambush targeting the terrorists detected in the East of Udayarkattukualm. Elsewhere, troops of 8 Sinha Regiment (8 SR) of the Task Force-2 have captured a LTTE base and five well fortified overhead bunkers and a hut.
After capturing the main LTTE runway in Iranamadu, the troops were able to capture an LTTE Computer expert from the LTTE’s air wing. Considered as one of the main persons of the air wing of the LTTE, the computer expert had revealed important details about the Tiger air assets.
The 57 division also captured the sixth runway located north of the Iranamadu main runway. This runway had been used for black Tiger training as well as to make an emergency landing of the LTTE light aircraft. A road had been used to build this 20 metre wide runway.
Beside the runway troops captured a hangar protected with heavy containers filled with soil that was used to hide the LTTE aircraft. The area had been restricted to all civilians. Proving that the place was used to hide the Tiger aircraft, the troops found a locally built bomb used by the LTTE to drop in Colombo and in other air attacks.
With the troops advancing further into the Tiger-held area fierce battles were reported from all fronts since few weeks ago. Considering recent developments, the LTTE fighting capabilities seem to be very low as the troops had advanced more than 4 kilometers area on daily basis causing heavy damage to the LTTE.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka army on Wednesday has expanded the existing safe zone facilitating civilian movement in the rebel-held areas. This strategy is also expected to ensure safety of the civilians who are making constant efforts to flee from LTTE towards the recently liberated areas in both Mullaittivu and Kilinochchi. According to military officials, a 4-km long stretch to the north of Udayarkattu junction and the Yellow Bridge on the A-35 Puthukkudiyiruppu-Paranthan main road up to Iruthumadu (09 23 17.20 N & 080 36 25.70 E) and another 8-km long area from the south of Iruthumadu up to Thevipuram (09 23 17.40 N & 080 40 53.60 E) has been earmarked for this ‘Safe Zone’ with immediate effect.
The United Nations, on January 16, called on the LTTE to allow the civilians to move into government controlled areas without keeping them as a human shield in the face of military advances.
Earlier, the military declared a no fire zone in Vishvamadu area in the Mullaitivu district in order to prevent civilians getting killed or injured with the intensification of the fighting in the Wanni. However, the fleeing villagers had told the military that the LTTE was keeping some thousands of people as a human shield.
Brainwashing Tiger cadres
The LTTE is famous for creating suicide cadres by brainwashing them to carry out deadly attacks. One of the main programs of their training period is brainwashing the cadres who undergo training. Last week a member of the LTTE’s Charles Anthony brigade was captured by the military in Kilinochchi.
During the interrogating sessions intelligence officers had asked which person comes to his mind when mentioned the name Charles. The LTTE cadre in reply had said that it was Charles Anthony alias Seelan, who was killed in the 1980s and the second name he mentioned was LTTE Leader Prabhakaran’s son Charles Anthony.
He also said that according to what they learnt Charles Anthony (Seelan) was a hero. When asked why he was a hero, the LTTE cadre had said that when Seelan and another LTTE leader were trapped in a house, which was surrounded by the Army, the injured Seelan had asked the fellow LTTE member to shoot him and escape from the army.
Because of that he was a hero, the captured cadre had said.
When intelligence officers asked who the fellow LTTE member was, the captured cadre had said that he did not know as the LTTE had not revealed the name.
When officers said that it was LTTE Leader Prabhakaran, the captured cadre had got a shock and said that no LTTE cadre knows about it.
He also revealed that the LTTE leaders were conducting sessions to the Advance Level students in schools in the LTTE held areas. During these sessions the LTTE leaders had engaged in brainwashing the students saying that the Sri Lanka Army Soldiers would sexually harass and assault the sisters and mothers of every Tamil person and because of that everyone should fight against the Sri Lanka Army.