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DateLine Sunday, 22 April 2007

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Forces unruffled despite Tiger warnings

The conflict in the North-East has again become an open issue during the last week after the Security Forces completed their mission in the East. The LTTE Political Wing leader S. P. Thamilselvan has expressed views to the media this week that they will unleash their "full capacity" if Government Forces try to take their northern stronghold.

That means the LTTE is aware that their strongholds in Killinochchi and Mullaitivu will soon become the targets of the Government Security Forces. They were preparing for this militarily and also politically while launching their vicious campaign to keep the Tamil community under their fold adopting most inhumane means to prevent them from taking refuge in Government held areas.

The Navy reported series of incidents in North of Mannar area during the week where the LTTE continuously harass the innocent Tamil civilians while fishing. According to them a group of Sea Tigers who arrived in three boats to Vankalai had abducted seven unmarried fishermen around 7.30 a.m. on Wednesday (18).

Abductions

Subsequently, the LTTE also abducted another five unmarried fishermen while they were fishing in the Neruvilukulam seas the same day. On Friday, armed LTTE Sea Tiger Cadres attacked a group of fishermen in the seas off Silavathurai and stole their boats and out board engines. According to fishermen who reported the incident to the Baththalangunduwa Navy camp armed Sea Tiger cadres had arrived in 4 small craft and forced the fishermen out of their boats at gun point. The Sea Tigers had fled the scene with the stolen boats and engines. According to the Navy, the LTTE is now engaged in this vicious campaign to prevent the fishermen entering the sea off Mannar as it would be an impediment for the intense activities now taking place in the area.

It is obvious that LTTE has no other way of smuggling arms and ammunition to Wanni in preparation for any battles that could take place very soon if Government decided to go after the terrorist cadres in Killinochchi and Mullaitivu. The entire Eastern coast, except Mullaitivu, is now under the control of the Security Forces and it has now become an arduous task for the LTTE to smuggle arms and ammunition in to Wanni using the Eastern coast. Therefore, the only option they have been left is the coast south and North of Mannar.

Now they have to play a do or die game in the Gulf of Mannar region in fulfilling their daily requirements as Indian Navy and the Coast Guard too has intensified patrolling in the region, after the Sri Lankan Government effectively exposed the double game played by the LTTE to antagonize Indian authorities and the Sri Lanka Navy.

Therefore, the Navy is now entrusted with an enormous task, to prevent any arms and ammunition being smuggled into the Wanni region to thwart any effort by the Government troops to take control over Tiger strongholds in Mullaitivu, Killinochchi and in Wanni.

The Navy has so far fulfilled its duty to the point destroying four LTTE arms smuggling ships, one in the sea off Kalmunai, two in Sea off Arugam Bay, and one in the sea off Matara. Those achievements by the Navy through their dedication and commitment have put the Security Forces in a strong footing to face any Tiger offensive.

On the other way, according to Navy, the LTTE too use the harassment of innocent fishermen as a tool for the creation of human shields in the Wanni region too by preventing them from leaving uncleared areas in face of any Security Forces offensive in the area.

The LTTE had abducted these fishermen from cleared areas as they had helped the civilians in the uncleared areas to enter into cleared areas by boats.

It has now become evident that the Tiger leader Prabhakaran had launched an air attack on the Katunayake Air Force Base as a part of its psychological operation to boost their fund raising campaigns all over the world with many countries shutting their doors for the Tiger outfit to launch their fund raising campaigns.

It has now being evident the shortsighted act by the LTTE has already bounced back on them with Air Force intensifying its activities to fight back any threat posed by the air wing of the LTTE. The Air Force has intensified activities increasing it reconnaissance missions in the North East and armed combat air patrolling in the North East region.

The SALF went on taking Tiger targets in the North by launching an attack on the Tiger air facility in Killinochchi on Tuesday night.

The Air Force took this target after their UAVs observing some vehicle movement close to the Iranamadu air strip. That means the Air Force now has increased their reconnaissance missions in the North east with the objective of destroying the air capabilities of the LTTE.

Apart from this SLAF fighter jets on combat air patrol targeted a LTTE training camp in Periyapachchapalai in Jaffna on Thursday night around 10 p.m. According to pilots; the training camp sustained severe damages and inflicted heavy casualties to the LTTE.

Previously on Wednesday, Air Force fighter jets have carried out two sorties, one at 10.15 a.m. and the other at 10.40 a.m. destroying an LTTE strategic communication facility and an Intelligence nerve centre. The sources further confirmed that the air attacks have completely destroyed the targets.

Meanwhile, the intelligence sources said that the details of the targets have been obtained on the real-time ground information. The target acquired in the East of Killinochchi has been identified as one of the key intelligence nerve centres of the LTTE, where all its intelligence chiefs including Pottu Amman used to visit regularly.

The communication centre destroyed at Puthukkudiyiruppu has been identified as one of the LTTE's most sophisticated facility which the outfit had been using to communicate with its international counterparts, the sources further added.

Later intelligence reports gathered by Air and ground sources also collaborated that the target was hit with precision and among the dead was the LTTE International Communications Coordinator Kalailahan known as "Lieutenant Colonel" due to the precise attack on the communication centre of the LTTE.

Determined effort

Now the SLAF is engaged in this determined effort since it is vulnerable on the part of the LTTE to keep the Tiger air activities and also the other activities at zero level, by keeping on alert on their activities checking and rechecking all the information received by the Air Force with regard to flying objects.

The intelligence reports have indicated that Tiger cadres will come out with another attack similar to the attack on the Air Force base in Katunayake, since they had succeeded in achieving many of their goals, despite their failure to launch the attack successfully.

It has to be mentioned; though the SLAF fighting capabilities had not been reduced from this attack there was a psychological impact on the Air Force due to this attack.

But they have recovered from that trauma as the higher defence authorities were fully behind the SLAF without finding fault with them. The Defence Authorities reviewing the situation prior to the LTTE air attack now suspect that LTTE wanted the Wilpattu National park area inaccessible to people to facilitate their Tiger air wing to conduct their training missions using this area.

It has also been suspected that the LTTE may have carried out night rehearsals in this region since there are lots of evidence pointing to the conclusion that Tiger aircrafts have entered in to the area several occasions during night time.

In this backdrop the defence authorities believe that the anti tank mine explosion that killed several civilians last year and the recent assassination of the Commandant of the Saliyapura Army camp and Wild Life official after entering Wilpattu jungles could have been due to LTTE attempts to keep the Wilpattu national park inaccessible for the public.

Therefore, the SLAF is now determined not to allow any repetition of the Katunayake incident since it would be a factor not only to stir national security but also with regard to national politics, since some politicians have already made use of this incident in favour of their political agendas, even with a single knowledge that they were the key persons responsible for the situation.

Those who are demanding the ousting of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, over this incident should be made responsible for this situation since they were the people who allowed the Tiger outfit to increase their air capabilities while doing nothing on the part of national security for the establishment of air defence system.

Therefore, it is evident not only in the battle front, in the political front too the LTTE is spearheading with its campaign of removing the people who had become obstacles in achieving their goals.

The objective is very obvious that they need to oust Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa from his position in any means, since they are aware of the fact it was he who would decide the destiny of the LTTE's existence. Since the LTTE missed the opportunity of getting rid of this determined person from the Defence hierarchy on December 1, last year after deploying suicide cadres, they are now engaged in a political campaign to remove him from this position. The LTTE succeeded in their efforts earlier, through various political pressures to remove people, whom they thought would be a challenge to them one day.

Many people have fallen victim of this campaign spearheaded by the LTTE willingly or unwillingly. The LTTE is well aware of the fact if only they can cause major disaster in the South or by assassination of high profile politician military or political leader who has become a real challenge for the survival of their activities.

Therefore, the LTTE would go for any option available with them or even beyond their capacity in the coming week since they are feeling that they are losing not only the Tamil population but also their treasured territory in the Wanni in the face of any offensive by the Security Forces with the completion of their mission in the East.

The, Tiger hierarchy may resort to these desperate attempts as they are not a position to face this challenge since they are now in more disadvantageous position after losing their grounds in the East which has been constantly used by them for their recruitment drives and also as training bases, since they cannot expect any reinforcement to face Security Forces in many fronts.

Even in the Wanni region they are in a more disadvantageous position, since they cannot gather their force together to launch major offensive against the Security Forces since it would be advantageous for the Security Forces to take control of the areas once the strength of the area is weakened, in the face of such attempts by the LTTE.

Under these, circumstance, if the LTTE failed in their attempts to come out of this situation they might enter the path of peace, as a time buying factor to strengthen militarily again to face such military offensive effectively.

Therefore, it might not a be surprising factor if the LTTE comes out with certain conditions when Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattskar meets the LTTE Political Wing Leader this week in Killinochchi to reenter the path of peace with the Government.

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