Security forces on their way to eradicating terrorism completely
year 2008 has been earmarked for elimination of terrorism from the
country. It was after the victories achieved by the Security Forces in
the Eastern theatre by fully eradicating terrorism from the Eastern
province the Government and the Security Forces made this determination
at the dawn of the year to make all their efforts to achieve this target
within the year.
If we have a flashback on the many stages of the conflict, many
predictions made by politicians have become unrealistic ones and all
their attempts to eliminate LTTE terrorism fully from the North East has
been shattered at the hands of the terror tactics of the Tiger leader
The most recent example was the declarations made by the former
Deputy Defence Minister General Anuruddha Ratwatte in late 1990's to
eliminate LTTE within months as the Security Forces launched operation 'Jaya
Sikurui' (Victory Assured) on May 13, 1997 to liberate a land route to
Though it was successful in capturing 90 per cent of the A-9 but
later, that operation turned into the longest military operation in the
military history of the country as it dragged on for 18 months but
abandoned it in December 1998 without reaching the set goals.
It was at the tale end of this military operation the LTTE hit back
at the troops with their Unceasing Wave operation compelling the troops
to withdraw up to Omanthai leaving all their military bases. In the
Northern front also the LTTE was able to push back Security Forces
defences up to Muhamalai after the Elephant Pass debacle.
It was with this background in mind many critics are looking
apprehensively at the current military operations to liberate Wanni from
the clutches of the LTTE. They are more apprehensive of the Security
Forces with the sudden increase of the casualty rate after fierce
battles erupted in Mannar, Vavuniya and Weli Oya within last two weeks.
The fierce battle which erupted in the Weli Oya this week, killing
six soldiers and injuring 24 made some critics come to the conclusion
that LTTE was still powerful in the Wanni and are capable enough to hit
back at the troops at any moment.
Even the, barrages of artillery rounds fired at Thalladi, where the
Army is having its key bases, damaging St. Sebastians Church on Tuesday
has also been taken as show of strength by the LTTE, by many critics,
leaving aside the sacrilegious act committed by the LTTE.
As this column repeatedly highlighted that the battle to liberate
Wanni is not a cake walk. If this operation is such a simple task the
Security Forces would have taken this territory by this time if the
Government just wanted a political mileage out of this military
The Security Forces have taken a realistic approach, as we
highlighted earlier, to liberate Wanni and this type of temporary
setbacks are always expected by them in a battle of this nature. But it
is unfair to highlight the increased number of casualties rate on the
part of the Security Forces in the Weli Oya front as a set back. In
reality the LTTE suffered much more casualties than the troops attached
to the 59 Division which became operational since mid January this year
under the command of Brigadier Nandana Udawatta who once served as the
Deputy General Officer Commanding of the 57 Division in Kalmadu.
The troops engaged in long range patrolling on Thursday had observed
how LTTE had suffered at the hand of the Security Forces with the number
of casualties they are transporting to Mullaitivu from the Weli Oya
battle front. The troops operating inside the LTTE controlled area (we
will not disclose the location in view of the safety of the troops) had
hit at a tractor carrying LTTE cadres to their FDLs killing six of them.
Later they have observed that LTTE was carrying their casualties in a
Rosa bus, the latest mode of vehicle used by the Tiger cadres to
transport their casualties, towards Mullaitivu direction. Apart from
this they have counted eight ambulances which were filled with
casualties heading towards Puthukuduiruppu, Mullaitivu.
This was a clear indication that the LTTE too suffer heavy casualties
in these battle fronts and the numbers are very much higher than the
number of casualties on the Security Forces side.
The other factor contributing to the increase of casualty rate in
this new battle front is that the terrain in the Weli Oya sector is
still new to troops. This was a common feature when troops attached to
57 Division commenced their operations from Kalmadu area.
There had been a large number of casualties in the 57 Division early
last year but gradually the number had decreased, as they destroyed the
Tiger gun positions and defences in the Vavuniya front.
But the most vital factor for the LTTE to pose a major threat on the
troops in the Weli Oya front is that they have realised the fact that
their strongholds in Mullaitivu are in imminent danger at the hands of
the Security Forces.
In the Weli Oya front the troops are confronting the LTTE at eight
locations and creating 10 kilo metres long front from Kokkuthuduval to
Ethavetunuvewa with deployment of nine battalions along with the Special
The troops attached to the 59 Division too are having a battle front
that is similar to the Vavuniya front dominated by the 57 Division under
the command of Brigadier Jagath Dias, as they too have to operate within
thick jungle patches. Therefore, in this battle front the LTTE and the
Security Forces are heavily dependent on artillery and mortar fire while
LTTE is depending on booby traps and AP mines to delay the advance of
The Tiger leadership is desperately in need of stopping the advance
of the troops as they very clearly realised that if troops advance
another 10 kilo metres into their territory from the Weli Oya front and
reach the Kumulamunai area in the Mullaitivu district, all the military
and logistic bases and gun positions of the LTTE will fall within the
artillery range of the Security Forces.
If the troops are able to advance another 15 Km or 5 Km Northwards
from the Kumulamunai the LTTE is going to lose the control over the
civilian population in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi as they will tend to
leave Wanni and leave towards cleared areas fearing major confrontations
That is why the Tiger outfit is making desperate attempts at least to
delay the advance of the troops by posing stiff resistance to the troops
operating in the Weli Oya sector. But, the troops are effectively facing
all these tactics of the LTTE.
Similar type of situation is prevailing in the Vavuniya front with
many of the strategic places coming under the Security Forces control.
The troops are now in control of Mullikulam area ahead of Palampiddi.
The 571 Brigade under the command of Colonel Priyal is heading towards
Palampiddi and the capture of Palampiddi will definitely mark the fall
of Madhu shrine area to the hands of the Security Forces.
The fall of Palampiddi, will also create problems for the Tiger
cadres operating in the Mannar front as all supplies to that theatre
will be cut off once Palampiddi falls to the hands of the Security
Such a move will definitely weaken the LTTE in the Mannar front
compelling the LTTE to withdraw from the area. It was in this
background, strategic Thalladi came under fierce artillery attack on
Tuesday killing six soldiers and injuring nearly 15 who were cleaning
the St. Sebastian's Church on the request made by a group of priests in
Mannar to the Mannar area commander.
One of the major problems the LTTE is facing in this theatre is that
they are now being pushed to a disadvantageous situation, in which they
cannot direct artillery fire at vital Security Forces installations in
the Mannar region.
According to the latest development achieved by troops of the Task
Force -I is that once they advance another one kilometre ahead of their
current defence line they will not come under LTTEs 122 mm artillery
range in Thalladi.
The Security Forces believe that the LTTE had directed artillery fire
after dragging this gun for days to Vidathalthivu area as they had felt
imminent threat from the Security Forces side.
The military sources in Mannar also indicates that the Tiger
leadership has taken new initiative to construct a new defence line in
the North of Mannar after they realized the fact their defences in
Mannar will soon fall to the Security Forces.
Ramesh, who was the Batticaloa Military leader, has been entrusted
with this task of constructing this bunker line to defend their
territory. Apart from the battle front from Mannar to Weli Oya the
Security Forces in Muhmalai front in Jaffna is also functioning well in
that theatre posing major threat to the LTTE.
Though, troops have capability to capture the Tiger FDL in Muhamalai
they have made no effort to dominate this since the LTTE artillery guns
registered to these positions will definitely cause heavy casualties
among the troops.
So there is no hesitancy on the part of the Security Forces from the
Jaffna front, but are making every possible attempt to destabilize the
LTTE defences by conducting limited operations.
According to the latest intelligence reports the LTTE is maintaining
3,000 well trained cadres to man their defences from Mannar to Weli Oya
and then in the Jaffna front. Inside in Wanni they have a strength of
2,500 to maintain security of the Tiger leader Prabhakaran and other
leaders and for road pickets. Apart from this they also have 700 Sea
The main concern of the public is why the LTTE is maintaining such
big strength even after claims by the Security Forces that thousands of
their cadres have been killed during the past few months.
It was due to the recruitment drive carried out by the LTTE to
recruit the second member from each family living in Wanni.
Though they are successful in their efforts of recruiting people at
present, there is no possibility for them to replace all the cadres
getting killed at the hands of the Security Forces. So there will be a
day the LTTE would face acute shortage of man power to face the troops
advancing towards the Wanni strongholds.
That will be the day the LTTE will have to face a humiliating defeat
in the Wanni.
Signs are emerging that many cadres are fed up with the LTTE and
their morale is at the lowest level by this time.
The number of letters recovered from LTTE positions in Weli Oya has
revealed the plight they are now undergoing in LTTE defences.
They are even cursing their parents for putting them in such an awful
position allowing the LTTE to recruit them to this organization.
Contrary to this the Security Forces have been able to maintain a big
strength with the recruitment of 30,000 soldiers last year and another
5,000 this year.
So the Army is in a position to replace the soldiers who sustain
injuries in the battle front.
Apart from this it also has the required capacity to strengthen the
existing battalions by adding more manpower to these battalions.
But the Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka refutes the
speculations that Army is going to form another Division to be deployed
in the Wanni operations.
So with these developments, there is no necessity on the part of the
Security Forces to be disturbed by any criticism and predictions as
their only aim is to eliminate terrorism from the country and to save
the country from decades of suffering as they are well within their