LTTE's military 'parity' bared as a lie
For those who argued for a military parity between the security
forces and the LTTE, confrontations of the last few days are a reminder
of the hollowness of the argument.
Of course, the Tigers have notable achievements in guerrilla warfare,
which is part of asymmetric warfare where a militarily weaker party
fights its enemy taking the advantage of a friendly terrain and
In a guerrilla attack, there is always an element of surprise which
stands for the advantage of the attack However, in a conventional war,
the Tigers are not a match for the security forces. The danger, however,
is that the asymmetry in the balance of power could lead Tigers to take
on soft targets to avenge the losses in the battlefield. This requires
the security in the south to be beefed up. According to intercepted LTTE
transmissions, over 330 LTTE cadres have been killed during the last
four days of fighting in the East. This includes 152 LTTE fatalities in
the failed battle to overrun Mutur Jetty on Friday. Three sailors were
killed and eight injured in the confrontation. According to intercepted
communications, 126 LTTE cadres were injured.
Of course, the war casualties are not a numbers game. Every number
stands for a life. But, what is evident in the LTTE's desperate bid to
carry on the fight, despite heavy casualties on its part, is its sheer
disregard for human life in pursuing its agenda.
Friday's LTTE bid to overrun the Mutur jetty was reminiscent to its
previous military operations codenamed "Unceasing Waves," some of which
succeeded, most notably Unceasing Waves III which overran Elephant Pass
military garrison, despite heavy battle casualties.
However, Friday's attempt to overrun the Mutur Jetty amounted to a
After a day of calmness in the battlefront, Tiger cadres attempted to
storm the jetty on Friday afternoon. They followed the same pattern of
Unceasing Waves, sending human waves one after the other to storm the
jetty, supported by heavy mortars and heavy calibre machine guns. But,
they were beaten back and as some naval troops told the Sunday Observer,
the waves of LTTE cadres proved to be easy targets for troops. Indeed,
troops anticipated a retaliation from the Tigers after their losses in
the first three days.
One hundred and fifty two cadres were killed in the Navy retaliation.
Naval troops recovered 40-50 LTTE bodies along with a large haul of
weapons which included a 5mm high calibre machine gun.
The Navy contacted the International Committee of Red Cross and SLMM
to the transfer bodies.
Friday's attack is viewed as the culmination of an LTTE offensive,
which however proved to be costly, in retaliation to the security
force's operation in Mavilaru, where the Tigers had closed the sluice
gates cutting off the water supply to 15,000 families.
The first diversionary attack took place on Tuesday. The LTTE fired
12 rounds of artillery from Sampur to the Trinco naval base, killing
five sailors and seriously injuring 12.
Under the cover of artillery fire, sea Tigers launched five suicide
boats to target Security personnel carrier, Jetliner.
The merchant vessel escaped the sea Tiger attack and sailed into the
Trinco harbour while Dvora gun boats engaged with sea Tiger boats. Three
sea Tiger boats were destroyed. The same night, a flotilla of sea Tiger
boats attacked three Navy gun boats in Pulmudai. A cordon of Navy gun
boats were set up in Pulmudai to cut off Tiger reinforcement to the East
from where desperate messages had been sent to the Vanni asking for more
troops if they were to continue with the battle.
Twelve sea Tiger boats attempted to attack the Naval patrol boats. In
the subsequent navy retaliation, five sea Tiger boats were destroyed and
According to intercepted LTTE communications, 80 sea Tigers had been
killed in the two sea battles on Tuesday.
This included three sea Tiger leaders, Kujan, Thamilselilan and
female cadre, Selvi.
It was this failure in the sea, which compelled Tigers for a risky
gamble on military camps located adjacent to LTTE controlled areas.
In the wee hours of Wednesday, Tiger cadres surrounded
Kattaparichchan, Selvanayar, Pahala Thoppur, Mutur and Mahindapura
The LTTE overran four bunker lines in Kattaparichchan. In Mahindapura,
the LTTE cut off reinforcement to the besieged military camp.
However by noon on Wednesday, troops supported by reinforcements took
control of the ground. In Kattaparichchan, five wounded LTTE female
fighters surrendered. Five bodies were also recovered.
The battle in the pre-dominantly Muslim town, Mutur, however,
escalated as LTTE succeed moving 600 cadres from Pooneryn to the Eastern
LTTE robbed two public banks, overran a police post and took control
of the Mutur hospital.
A Tiger flag was seen fluttering in the communication tower.
On Wednesday night, the Army's Special Force and Navy's Special Boat
Squadron (SBS) were inducted into Mutur. After initial fighting, Tiger
cadres blended themselves with civilians and fought security forces
taking civilians as a human shield.
Heavy intermittent mortar and artillery barrage were directed at
Mutur from LTTE controlled Sampur. One shell hit the Mutur Arabic School
where thousand of civilians took refugee having fled fighting.
Ten civilians were killed and over 18 were injured, Two other schools
came under shelling which killed further six civilians and injured
scores of others.
Transport of the injured became impossible as heavy fighting and
intermittent shelling prevailed.
Possible Rocket Propel Grenade (RPG) fire prevented choppers from
landing to evacuate civilians. On Thursday, the Navy however,
transported over 90 injured civilians to Trincomalee via the sea.
On Thursday morning, SBS commandoes commenced house to house search
operations to mop out Tiger cadres. By Friday noon, they had succeeded
in consolidating the city centre while, Army commandoes engaged with
Tiger cadres in the southern end of the town.
Series of setbacks
Hit by a series of setbacks during the first three days, the LTTE on
Friday fought its last battle. Human wave after wave tried to storm the
Mutur Jetty and were beaten back.
That could be the last battle in Mutur for some time. But according
to intercepted LTTE transmissions, LTTE local leaders have requested
more cadres from its Batticaloa sector, fearing that the security forces
would advance into Tiger territory in Sampur.