Some of you have asked us to provide details of the young Special Forces Captain who died rescuing the civilians at Ampalavanpokkanai recently.
Captain Ajith Gamage was killed by an LTTE gunman posing off as a civilian after having breached the LTTE defences at Ampalavanpokkanai, including the insurmountable earthbund and minefield in the same area on the very first day of operations.
4 SF soldiers who attempted to shield him from the gunman also died. This is how 5 Special Forces braves out of the total 11 SF braves who died in the rescue operation gave their lives to the motherland.
The 29yr old Captain (Posthumously promoted to Major) of a slightly smaller stature than the majority of the Special Forces officers was a giant in the battlefield who rose through the ranks of 1 Special Forces very quickly in recent times. Major Gamage leaves behind a wife whom he married 6 months ago.
A particularly good looking and pleasant individual, Ajith Gamage was awarded the coveted WWV three times for his services. He the OC (Officer Commanding) of the 1SF A Team and engaged in LRRP/LRS missions for the same unit.
He was engaged in a search and destroy mission and had changed his offensive posture when he was attacked by an LTTE cadre dressed like a civilian.
Operations continued as planned today when regular infantry troops from the 53, TF-8 and 58 Divisions troops broke through an section of the LTTE earthbund south of Valairmadam. Contrary to the belief the military is using infantry support weapons and aerial attacks against the enemy.
The Special Forces and Commando Regiments were nowhere to be seen in the battlefield today. 1, 2, 3 SF LRRP and 4 SF Squadrons have/will be engaged on a rotating basis to engage the toughest targets while 2, 3, 4 and 5 Commando Regiments will be deployed for other specific missions, sources indicated.
Rescue operation an unexpected success!
The Chronology of the Operation today…
Around 11.45pm- 12 midnight, a team of Special Forces (1SF) and another team from 2 Commando led by Colonels Athula Kodippili and Ralph Nugera breached the 12km LTTE earthbund.
The teams cleared a stretch of 3km from Puthumathalang towards Valaimadam. Heavy fighting erupted between the LTTE and the Special Forces. Large volumes of LTTE artillery and mortar fire from the NFZ started landing on the LTTE bund.
The Special Forces took the lead and went on an aggressive bunker-busting operation. Troops reported heavy casualties to the LTTE via communication sets. By the time the bund was cleared, 11 Special Forces soldiers including a Special Forces Captain had laid down their lives.
Soon afterward, thousands of civilians took to their heels and started running towards the now breached LTTE earth bund as Tigers started running in the opposite direction unable to face the SF and Commando squads. The Special Forces and Commandos temporarily halted their offensives and allowed the civilians to come.
3 Black Tigers hiding among the civilians blasted bombs strapped to their bodies killing 17 civilians. Total casualties to civilians in the 3 blasts was around 200.
At the same time, 2000 civilians escaping by boats towards Pulmoddai were picked up by the Navy. Another 5000 were rescued by a special team sent in by Brigadier Prasanna Silva of the 55 Division.
By 10pm today, rescued civilians, fed and rested at Puthumathalang, were arriving in steady numbers at welfare centers at Vavuniya. The Army was welcoming them with a hot meal and other refreshments while MIC searched for suicide bombers. One black tiger suicide bomber has been identified so far.
The Army was extremely happy with the 38,000+ civilians they rescued within the first day of the rescue mission and having breached the largest remaining LTTE earth bund today. Another large rescue of this nature could really put the ‘cat amongst the pigeons’, the cat in this scenario being the elite units of the Army.
During the entire operation, all high ranking officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Defence Secretary and even President Rajapakse were awake and providing moral support to the frontline troops, led so fittingly by the 1st Brigade of the Special Forces, the oldest squadrons of the SF and 2 Commando, the spearhead of all 58 Division operations.