Tiger leaders and cadres who surrendered during the final stages of the Wanni battle, are spilling the beans on their secretive organisation, and helping security forces recover more and more arms caches
On information elicited by Intelligence, the armed forces were able to unearth more heavy weapons and other items in the last LTTE stronghold throughout this week. Even Tiger leaders who fought until the last are fast volunteering information.
They have disclosed to Military Intelligence hitherto unknown details of the fledgling Tiger air wing. As a result, the Intelligence Unit attached to 56 Division, was able to get hold of pictures of the Tiger air wing leaders and recover important documents from Vellamullaivaikkal.
Details of Prabakaran’s daughter, Dwaraka’s death, so far unknown, were also disclosed by a ‘top’ Tiger.
Dwaraka had been with the ‘Sodia’ regiment along with other female cadres during the final battle in Vellamullaivaikkal, when she was killed by artillery fire, and they had performed her last rites in the same area.
According to this informant, she died on May 12, 2009, around 9:30 am. Before her death she had been made a ‘Lt. Col.’ of that regiment by the Tiger leader, to the utter dismay of its members, though they had not outwardly shown their disapproval.
Surrendees and POWs
General Sarath Fonseka disclosed that about 22,000 terrorists were killed and about 10,000 captured during the battles for Tiger fortresses in Wanni. He made this announcement during the launch of the book “The Final Great Wanni Battle”, by this writer, at the National Library and Documentation Services Board on Wednesday.
Of the 10,000 Tiger cadres captured by the security forces, 9,000 have been sent for rehabilitation, while steps are being taken to prosecute the balance 1,000. Those to be brought before the law are those who did not surrender, but taken into custody while hiding in welfare camps as IDPs. Among them are senior cadres who have served the organisation for 15 to 16 years, the Army Commander said.
Human cost of war
Although this victory is outwardly seen as one won with ease, but in fact was won with much dedication and sacrifice of life. “This victory cost the lives of 5,200 of my soldiers, while 19,000 others were wounded”, the Commander recalled.
Explaining the inside story that made the Wanni victory possible, he said that due to the President handling the political aspects without blemish and the President and Secretary of Defence giving the necessary backup and correct leadership, he was able to successfully lead his men to victory, and “nobody can challenge our success”.
Hunt for ‘rogue’ Tigers
The forces are now involved in taking on the few LTTE stragglers still haunting the jungles of the East. A few of the Infantry battalions that fought in Wanni battles and small contingents of Commandos and Special Forces are engaged in this final search operation for Tiger terrorists. This could be the end of the road for remaining terrorist leaders like Ram, Nagulan and others known to be in Yala, Buttala and Kandjikudichchiyaru jungles.
On the July 3, Mohandas, leader of Kirankulam in the East, was shot and caught while trying to escape across the Kirankulam lagoon. A soldier on the security ring died, while two others were wounded in this clash. This is the first death of a soldier since the death of Prabhakaran on May 19. Mohandas, a ‘Lt. Col.’, had been earlier assigned the task of crippling life in the East and South.
An air ticket, money and a cyanide capsule was found on him. It is suspected that his plan was to escape to a foreign country and get his family down later. Military Intelligence has been entrusted with the task of tracking down such remaining Tiger cadres in the East.
Meanwhile, an operation to disarm armed gangs in the East, was also launched under the leadership of DIG Edison Gunatillaka, who warned the gangs that none other than the forces are licensed to carry arms. Therefore, he reiterated that they should hand over their weapons while the going was good.
The disarming of the Jihadists and other armed Muslim extremists will be undertaken in this operation, along with those armed cadres that earlier aligned with Pillaiyan and Karuna
Clearance and resettlement
Meanwhile, Gen. Sarath Fonseka undertook a tour of Wanni this week to assess the requirements for implementing future forward field requirements.
Accordingly, by December, the west of the A-9 (Kandy-Jaffna) will be resettled by its former inhabitants.
The de-mining in the Madhu region and 10 liberated villages in the Weli Oya area is being carried out at present and will be resettled no sooner the tasks are completed. With the resettlement of people west of A-9 in Pooneryn and Mannar, the A-32 supply route is scheduled to be reopened next.
Lt. Col. Kithsiri Liyanage who commanded 7 Sinha Regiment with distinction during Wanni battles, has been appointed Commander 67-2 Brigade under Task Force VII. This Brigade is scheduled to be stationed at Elephant Pass. Col. Hemantha Karanaratne has been made Commander 66-2 Brigade, which is scheduled to be based in Pooneryn.
Five Brigadiers promoted Majors General
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has approved the promotion of five Brigadiers to the rank of Major General this week. They are Military Planning Director Brig. Mahesh Senanayaka, Presidential Security Chief Brig. Jagath Alwis, Commander 22 Division Brig. Janaka Walgama, Financial Director General of the Army Brig. H.L. Weeratunga and Quartermaster General Brig. L.R. Wijetunga.