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DateLine Sunday, 8 April 2007

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Bogus assumptions, failed attempts leave Tigers in jitters

Sitrep Wide publicity given by the LTTE to the failed air attack on the Katunayake air base has also created friction within Tiger terrorists. Reports from Wanni said Sea Tiger leader Soosai had taken it too personally.

According to intelligence sources, Soosai have had a crucial meeting with other Sea Tiger leaders in Puthukuduiruppu in Mullaitivu on March 31. Soosai has stressed that they too should do something significant to boost the image of the Sea Tigers as the Tiger Air Wing did by launching an attack on the Katunayake Air Base.

However, a week later Air Force jets pounded the Sea Tiger Headquarters in Pudhukudiyiruppu, Mullaitivu, destroying it completely and causing heavy damage to the LTTE.


Courtesy BBC

Air Force jets pounded LTTE Sea Tiger installations in Pudhukudiyiruppu including the Sea Tiger Headquarters. Air Force said the air strike was successful and that they destroyed the target completely.

Sea Tiger installations such as fuel stores, vehicle parks and ammunition dumps too were destroyed, he added. Air Force sources said the Sea Tiger HQ was completely destroyed and went up in flames.

The Tiger outfit at last came out with their trump card by launching a surprise attack on the Katunayake Air Base, but failed in achieving their target. However they succeeded in their effort to get international attention with jubilant Tiger leader V. Prabhakaran posing for the camera along with the members of his air wing from a calandestine location in the Wanni.

But they must be aware that their jubilant mood would not be long lived as their trump card would very soon bring the death warrant for their organisation. Therefore, they would be aware of the fact that their jubilant mood will come to an end very soon with many nations expressing grave concern over the air capabilities of the LTTE.

The international community was not blind about the LTTE air capabilities. They were aware of the Tiger air capabilities years before this sudden attack.

The present administration which is open in their dealings against the terror acts of the LTTE briefed the diplomatic community based in Colombo mainly from neighbouring India, United States, European Union and Japan in the aftermath of Security Forces observing an air movement in the Vavuniya area.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa made this briefing to the diplomats, with the sole purpose of giving a clear picture of the LTTE organisation and also to warn the international community about the repercussion if the Tiger outfit is allowed to become more stronger.


Vellupillai Prabhakaran with his so-called Tamil ‘air force’ as appeared on BBC website

On the part of the Government, it is the responsibility of a democratic Government to enlighten the international community about growing threats to the globe, for them to be on alert to the situation without looking at this problem only on face value.

Robert Blake, the US Ambassador in Colombo was convinced from this briefing. He expressed his concerns, though not officially, saying that the LTTE is the only terror outfit equipped with air capabilities.

But this was not the first occasion India was briefed about the air capabilities of the LTTE. India was briefed about this alarming situation for years and they have even come forward to assist Sri Lanka to counter these air threats by establishing a Air Defence System after lengthy negotiations with the Sri Lankan Government.

The Sri Lankan Government has always been open to the Indian Government about the LTTE threat as it is aware India will also become vulnerable to such situations if it is allowed to grow within our country.

The Indian Government is aware that Sri Lanka, in advance briefed regarding an the LTTE plans to launch offensive to capture Jaffna peninsula and to attack the Trincomalee Naval base.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa convinced the Indian Government of this situation during his first visit to India and also to Pakistan. Later, the predictions made by the Sri Lankan Government turned out to be actual facts with the foiled attempt of the LTTE to capture the Jaffna peninsula.

When President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga briefed the Indian Government about the alarming threat from the Tiger air capabilities in 2003 after receipt of confirmed reports about the Iranamadu airstrip and the acquisition on light aircrafts to the LTTE, they would not have thought the LTTE would pose this type of threat within such a short period.

According to reports, the Indian Government is now alarmed of this situation and is hurriedly setting up Radar systems along the southern coast with the deployment of new Air Bases in the southern coast, in the same way they had reacted after the capture of the Tiger suicide kit and explosives in the Southern coast of Tamil Nadu.

The fact, that has to be highlighted here is that not only neighbouring India, but the entire international community should be aware of the fact that one day the targets of the LTTE would not be confined to Sri Lanka alone if they are allowed to operate freely.

Of course the Sri Lankan Government would not allow them to do so, though the LTTE aircraft could escape to the Wanni after bombing the Katunayake Air Base. But it will be beyond the control of the Security Forces or the Sri Lankan Government as in the case of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, if the LTTE deploy their trained pilots to hijack planes in foreign countries and go all out for suicide missions.

The unravelling of the LTTE links with major terror outfits like Al Queda, internationally keeps this situation in a more prioritised position with the possibilities of these terror outfit staking the support of the available resources of the LTTE to accomplish their terror operations against many nations.

The wide publicity given to the incident by the international media has already given much needed free publicity for their terror campaign to raise funds and also have more links with the international terror organisations.

Therefore, the international community's support to the Government, is essential at this point to go all out to destroy Tiger air capabilities, since it bears the responsibility of eliminating global terror threats which is growing on Sri Lankan soil.

Therefore, the international community's pressures on the Sri Lankan Government to have a political solution to the North-East conflict should be free from the condition of providing any solution to an organisation equipped with air capabilities.

As Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama stated to the international community, Government has kept the doors still open for the LTTE to enter negotiations with the Sri Lankan state irrespective of the incidents taking place in the North-East.

But, any solution to the problem has to be evolved in an environment where sovereignty of the country is free of challenges by air capability of the LTTE.

Therefore, the right for the Sri Lankan state to go all out to destroy the Tiger air capability cannot be challenged by any one as the LTTE has challenged the sovereignty of the State by using two air crafts to launch attack on the Katunayake Air Base.

Therefore, the Sri Lanka Air Force has now been given the licence to destroy the air capabilities of the LTTE.

But according to sources, the task would not be an easy one for the SLAF as they have to wait till the LTTE take their aircraft out of their hard bunkers in the jungles of Wanni for another training mission to launch another attack.

They will be extremely careful in handling their air capabilities. soon, as they have already realised the consequences of what they have done, though they could manage to escape after launching the air attack.

Therefore, the public support has become an essential factor for the Security Forces to destroy the air capability of the LTTE as they can provide information regarding air movements by the LTTE without waiting for the radar systems to detect them.

However, it is obvious now that the LTTE has launched this attack in clear desperation as their image has now come to the lowest level internationally with many nations coming out to proscribe the Tiger outfit in their countries.

The events unfolded during this week too proved the fact that the LTTE was preparing for their final war. The intelligence reports indicated that the Tiger cadres had a mock operation in Kilinochchi on March 26 using dummies as preparation for their offensive to capture the Jaffna peninsula.

Therefore it is very clear, very soon the LTTE will launch an offensive using their full strength, to come out from Wanni to capture Government held areas both in Vavuniya and also in Jaffna with their defeats in face of the Security Forces operations in the East.

The LTTE came out in their desperation launching a suicide mission to destroy Chenkaladi Army camp in Batticaloa. They are using this tactic as they were left with no other option but to engage in suicide missions to break out from the Thoppigala jungles in face of the advancing troops from the South, East and North of Thoppigala jungles.

As they no longer entertain the support of the civilian population in the East they have now resorted to these suicide attacks even disregarding the civilian lives.

Army soldiers on sentry duty at a road barrier in front of the Chenkaladi Army camp showed their bravery recalling the memories of the brave act by Hasalaka Gamini at Elephant Pass on Tuesday at 7.15 a.m.

That was not the first suicide attack by the LTTE in Batticaloa, the Tigers attempted to send two explosive laden vehicles across Red Bridge and Black Bridge in Batticaloa in their earlier bid to overrun Kumburumulla Army camp. The Security Forces were able to destroy both these explosive laden vehicles before they arrived at Security Forces barriers. Two soldiers were killed and eighteen civilians were injured in this suicide attack on the Chenkaladi Army camp.

The clear desperation of the LTTE once again was obvious on Thursday night as they launched sudden mortar attacks on Morakottanchena and Karadiyanaru villages in Batticaloa killing eight Tamil civilians and injuring many others.

Tiger terrorists at about 7.30 p.m. commenced a rain of mortar attacks simultaneously on civil populated Sittandy, Sandiveli and Morakttanchena villages causing panic among civilians who were about to sleep after meals.

Prerimban Ranjika an eighteen month old baby girl, Manoharan Nilochana seven years old boy, Peremban Shashikumar a 17 years old youth, Peremban Wasantha Kumar (18) Parameshwari Danalingam (30) Alahiya Wijelakshmi (42) Eliyathambi Shinnadorai (55) and Nagamani Thambi Dorai (44) from Murugan Kovil road, Sittandy fell victim of the Tiger shelling.

Through these attacks, the LTTE is now showing their anger against the Tamil community who had escaped from the West of Batticaloa areas to Government held areas without heeding to Tiger orders to stay there.

The Tamil civilians have realised the brutality of the LTTE having undergone the severe hardship at Vakarai.

The LTTE is now engaged in this process of attacking the Security Forces with the wrong impression that the Security Forces have been demoralised following their air attack on the Katunayake Air Base.

But the Security Forces showed their strength to the LTTE outfit, having captured the Kokkadicholai area on Wednesday giving a severe blow to the LTTE.

Following the capture of the Kokkadicholai area, the Tigers in the East are now facing the final phase of the battle having vacated the areas first in Mavilaru, secondly in Sampur, thirdly in Kathirveli and Vakarai and now in the fourth stage at Batticaloa West bordering to Thoppigala jungles.

Troops engaged in this humanitarian mission were able to expose the luxurious life spent by the Tiger leader confining the Tamil civilians to ten square feet tents donated to them by the Government and the INGOs.

The Security Forces exposed to the entire world ltte's air-conditioned luxurious conference hall with most modern facilities, which was built in a secret manner and used as their main centre of activities.

This huge LTTE conference hall, according to the Security Forces would have cost millions, contain a spacious auditorium, air-conditioned bedrooms, electricity-run kitchen units, pantries, washrooms and other modern furniture and equipment.

In the most recent past Tiger terrorists conducted media briefings in this building for both local and international media.

Troops engaged in this humanitarian mission were able to capture a large haul of claymore mines, land mines, anti-personnel mines, improvised explosive devices, guns and other warlike items that had been hurriedly left behind by fleeing Tiger terrorists in the face of advancing troops.

With the clearance of these areas the Government will be able to bring normalcy to the entire Eastern province in the coming months allowing the civilian population to lead a peaceful life sans terror acts of the LTTE.

Since the swift action by the Government the infrastructure of the East is also coming up fast bringing a new lease of life to the people. If the Government succeeded in development battle in the East soon after the battle to free the province from the clutches of terrorism, there will be no room at all for terrorism in that region.

Such environment will help extensively the Governments effort to liberate the people in Wanni in their effort to bring peace to the country.

But in the backdrop of these successes, the Security Forces will have to face many challenges in the coming weeks as the Tigers may resort to more desperate acts more than ever.

Therefore, the Security Forces should be more determined than ever to face the challenges of terrorism as they too will enter into the final and most serious lap of their battle against the LTTE with the completion of their mission in the Eastern theatre.

The development of the LTTE Air Wing

1983 - Wasanthan a childhood friend of Prabhakaran who joined the LTTE after 1983 riots was the first pilot to be trained in UK and France

1985 - Wasanthan resigned from the LTTE upon his return

1985 - Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Kittu, the then Jaffna commander of the LTTE initiated research to build an aircraft with a 200cc motorcycle engine

1986 - The prototype aircraft was manufactured but was a failure 1990/1991 - V. Swarnalingam alias Shankar, head of the LTTE leaders internal security and an aeronautical engineer who worked for Air Canada initiated a parallel programme Setting up of training base to train Air Wing cadres

1993 - Three LTTE cadres received pilot training and two more received training in maintenance, overseas

1995 - First intelligence report about LTTE landing two microlight aircraft on the North Eastern coast

1998 - November 27 the LTTE officially announced the existence of an air wing by using microlight aircraft to drop flowers on the Vattrapali Amman Kovil during the heroes day commemoration

1999 - Declared as the year of the Air Tigers

2001 - September 20 death of Shankar at the hand of the Military deep penetration team. Swarnam took over the Airwing and it was renamed as the Colonel Shankar Air Wing

2003 - Construction of the Iranamadu airstrip

2004 - April, intelligence reports reveal LTTE was in the possession of four fixed wing aircraft (probably Zlin 143L)

2005 - Eight trained pilots arrived in the Wanni subsequent to training in Europe

2005/2006 - Intelligence reports received that a Ukrainian national by the name Mikyola who is believed to have been a pilot or an engineer visiting Wanni. The LTTE Airwing is now commanded by a cadre named Ranjan whilst the responsibility of protecting air assets has been vested with Kennedy.

 

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