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DateLine Sunday, 25 May 2008





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Government Gazette


Duty above life


After the Mavil Aru attack the forces had good reason to believe that an attempt would be made on the Kattaparichchan Army Camp.

At exactly 1200 hrs on August 02, 2006 the lights went out. Two four-man teams and two eight-man teams were stationed with immediate effect. Staff Sergeant P.K. Kaluarachchi was the second in command at the time.

He had joined the Army as a new recruit in April, 1987 and received his basic training at Maduru Oya Training School. From there he joined the Third Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment.

In June, 1990 he joined the Sixth Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment and was promoted Corporal. In January 1993 he was promoted Sergeant and in the year 2000 he was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant, second in command.

The actual attack came in the early hours of August 02, 2006. Their first target was the 24 hour road block situated 200 metres from the Kattaparichchan bridge along Sampur-Muttur Road.

Date: August 02, 2006
Time: 0115 hrs
Location: Kattaparichchan Army Camp

It came from the villages in north of the Camp. And in fifteen minutes the attack started getting severe. The two four-man teams stationed outside the camp and the personnel manning the road block were immediately ordered back to the camp.

Eight bunkers were taken over by the terrorists, leaving seven soldiers wounded and one dead. Captain Vajira Witharana, First In Command and the Second In Command, Staff Sergeant P.K. Kaluarachchi decided to regain control of the eight bunkers.

0530 hrs: With the personnel that had manned the road block and the other two four-man teams they recaptured the eight bunkers. But by then every nook and cranny of the camp was subject to shelling by artillery, RPG and mortar attacks that went on for hours.

1730 hrs: The attack dragged on till evening and the enemy cadres showed no signs of backing off. The terrorists were using the ditch - that led to the camp from the road block - in order to gain access to the camp.

Corporal Hanthanage who was covering the ditch with an LMG (Light Machine Gun), took a severe hit in the forehead as he tried to prevent the LTTE cadres from getting into the camp. He was immediately carried to the main bunker and administered first aid.

Corporal Hanthanage kept on saying that he wanted to go back and rejoin the battle. They were in a critical situation as the attack was relentless and the number of casualties were rising. But Staff Sergeant P.K. Kaluarachchi ordered Corporal Hanthanage to stay, since he was seriously wounded and had lost a lot of blood. But Corporal Hanthanage forced himself back to the bunker despite his condition.

2100 hrs: The attack began to get more intense as the terrorists commenced attack on the bunkers again. Corporal Hanthanage and another soldier who was manning one of the bunkers died instantly.

But due to the dedication and bravery of people like Corporal Hanthanage, they were able to keep the camp from falling into the hands of the terrorists. The attack lasted till the next morn.

Date: August 03, 2006
Time: 0630 hrs
Location: Kattaparichchan Army Camp

The intensity of the attack started to lessen by morning. They came to know that there were nine bodies of terrorists lying around with their weapons, but they couldn’t be retrieved because the camp was still under attack by enemy artillery.

“By August 04 buildings were burning due to continuous shelling. We had long run out of water.” And ammunition was fast running out. A few biscuits from a destroyed canteen and a little water were the only left-over that sustained them.

But no matter how critical the situation they didn’t allow the bunkers to be recaptured by the terrorists. “The personnel that manned the road block including seven women fought side by side with us in the bunkers.” And to their advantage, the bunkers held well against the incessant shelling because they were of good standard.

Reinforcements of sixty men of the Gemunuhewa Regiment arrived on the third day with a fresh supply of ammunition. They had to attack their way through the LTTE cadres to get into the camps, but had to hold the transfer of dead bodies and casualties till the 5th due to heavy enemy fire.


In a battle that killed 82 LTTE cadres, that lasted for four days, four people died and 29 others were wounded. But considering the force of the attack, the casualties were few. It could have turned out much worse had it not been for the dedication of people like Corporal Hanthanage and proper leadership provided by his superiors.

Corporal Hanthanage was married with one child at the time of his death. But for him duty came first. He volunteered to go back into the battle, against orders, in spite of his condition. He did not think of his family or for that matter his own life. His conduct was truly exemplary. “The Army lost an important man at a crucial moment.”

Corporal Hanthanage was posthumously awarded the Rana Sura Medal and promoted to the rank of Junior NCO (Non Commissioned Officer). Staff Sergeant P.K. Kaluarachchi, who is now a Sergeant Major in the Liberation Mission of Madhu, Captain Vajira Witharana and two other officers of higher ranks have been nominated for Weera Wickrama Vibhushana Gallantry Awards. Others who played a part in saving the camp from LTTE clutches received Rana Sura as well as Rana Wickrama Medals.

Certain names have been changed in order to withhold identity.


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