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Sunday, 28 December 2008





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Government Gazette

Troops closing in on Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu

Intense fighting broke out on December 16 with the Security Forces launching their final battle to capture Kilinochchi and Paranthan. It continued for the past ten days in the same breath as troops expanded their positions along the Tiger earth bund despite some drawbacks due to intense counter attacks by the LTTE.

Both sides exchanged heavy artillery and mortar shelling as the battlefront took a new turn, most probably due to renewed fire power of the LTTE. But troops managed to advance into Tiger territory amidst all these obstacles with improved weather conditions. This enabled the troops to face the battle in a relatively better environment compared to the situation that prevailed last week.

What is most significant is that, Task Force I troops under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva continued to take the upper hand in the Paranthan front expanding the 1.5 kilometres stretch of the earth bund they captured on December 16 in the North of Pooneryn-Paranthan road to more than three kilometres as of yesterday effectively foiling all Tiger counter attacks to recapture it.

Troops braved the flooded and muddy terrains in the Paranthan front adjoining the Jaffna largoon front to expand their positions along the earth bund towards Pooneryn-Paranthan road whilst columns of troops advanced more than three kilometres ahead of the Tiger earth bund and captured Sinnaparanthan, one of the important locations ahead of Paranthan.

Troops attached to the 11 Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment under the command of Kithsiri Ekanayake and 17 Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Colonel Kottawatta achieved this victory whilst troops of the 8 Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Colonel Vajira Welagedara expanded positions on the ditch cum earth bund towards Adampan south of Pooneryn-Paranthan road.

With this move the Paranthan AG office area came under control of troops that are some six kilometres West of Paranthan junction.

The capture of Sinnaparanthan area is vital for the troops as it opens the gateways towards Paranthan, Kilinochchi and even towards Elephant Pass which are vital locations for the LTTE at present.

Troops of Task Force I are now operating in the same area they were operating in 1997 during the Sath Jaya operation to capture Kilinochchi from the Tigers. Therefore, every move by the Task Force I troops between Kilinochchi and the Jaffna peninsula is vital as they are moving to grab the neck of the Tiger territory that links the body and the head through vital arteries across Paranthan.

As troops were consolidating their positions in Sinnaparanthan which was captured on Tuesday LTTE launched a massive artillery and mortar fire towards the area on Wednesday morning commencing from 5.30 a.m. in their bid to recapture the area. But this attack was effectively foiled by Task Force I with close support given by the Sri Lanka Air Force and directing barrages of artillery and mortars into Tiger positions compelling the Tiger cadres who arrived to recapture the earth bund leaving behind their wounded.

The artillery radars at Task Force I detected three 130 mm artillery guns located in Iyakachchi area that were directing fire towards the defences of the troops whilst 122 mm artillery and 120 mm mortars were falling to the front from the North of Kilinochchi.

It was a clear indication that the LTTE had received fresh stocks of artillery and mortar rounds to intensify their thrust towards the advancing Security Forces. It is apparent that they have managed to unload a significant stock of artillery and mortar on board the medium size Tiger vessel that was destroyed in the sea off Mullaitivu by the Sri Lanka Navy last Saturday morning.

Therefore, it is vital for the Sri Lanka Navy to intensify the patrolling in the narrow stretch of Eastern seas now available for the LTTE to smuggle arms and ammunition into their territory.

Though the LTTE tried to display their massive fire power it seems they have failed to muster the manpower needed to launch counter attacks to recapture the terrain now dominated by the troops. It was because massive number of Tiger cadres fell victim to the Security Forces over the past one week in their bid to fight back the Security Forces.

In the Paranthan front alone troops managed to kill at least 15 Tiger cadres a day by launching assaults on their bunker lines and taking sniper targets.

As troops of Task Force I are heading towards paranthan, troops attached to the 57 Division under the command of Major General Jagath Dias also made a significant improvement in the battlefront facing Kilinochchi.

If there were any lapses on the part of the Security Forces during the battle that erupted on December 16 and during the subsequent counter attacks the troops attached to the 57 Division too managed to recapture the Tiger earth bund after the fresh combined operation launched by Task Force I and the 57 Division on December 22.

The 571 Brigade overcame Major drawbacks during the December 16 offensive, capturing two kilometres of vital section of the earth bund facing the West of Kilinochchi on December 22. 571 Brigade is now under the command of Lt. Colonel Harendra Ranasinghe who earlier acted as the Colonel General Staff of the Task Force I. He filled the vacancy created by the appointment of Colonel G. V. Ravipriya as the Commander of the Mannar Area Headquarters. Monday’s assault on the Tiger defences on the Kilinochchi front turned into a debacle for the LTTE as troops of the 571 Brigade managed to capture two kilometres stretch of the earth bund with minimum number of casualties but causing maximum casualties to the LTTE.

At 5.30 a.m. on Monday troops attached to 9 Gajaba Regiment under the command of Lt. Colonel Chandana Somaweera 4 Sinha Regiment under the Acting Command of Major Wasantha Hewage and the 12 Sinha Regiment under the command of Major Weerasinghe (Second in Command of the Sinha Regiment) launched this massive assault on the Tiger earth bund backed by Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships.

Within one hour they captured two kilometres stretch of the earth bund which is located just five kilometres west of Kilinochchi centre. They went on to consolidate their positions foiling all the counter attacks launched by the LTTE killing at least 50 Tiger cadres ahead of their defences.

As of yesterday, troops were in the process of clearing the area ahead of them as LTTE failed to even evacuate the casualties and dead bodies from the area.

The troops attached to the 572 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Dhammika Jayasundera also moved ahead of the Tiger earth bund to establish their defences ahead of the earth bund during the December 22 attack.

The troops attached to the 574 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Senaka Wijesuriya operating in the South of Kilinochchi also caused heavy damages to the LTTE but did not hold the earth bund.

The earth bund captured by the 574 Brigade on December 16 was recaptured by the LTTE last Saturday in a massive counter attack on the troops operating there. Though troops had to give up the earth bund intercepted radio transmissions have confirmed that 24 hardcore Tiger cadres were killed and 30 others injured during the fierce battle.

Therefore, after ten days of intense battles the Security Forces have once again taken complete control of the battle in the Kilinochchi and Paranthan battlefront strengthening their future moves to capture the de-facto Tiger capital Kilinochchi.

Yet it is not an easy task for the Security Forces as Tigers are preparing for a do or die battle in Kilinochchi deploying their hardcore cadres to the front.

Therefore, fierce battles are expected on the Kilinochchi front as they move further towards Kilinochchi which is a matter of only a few moves for the troops operating in the edges of build up area.

The LTTE is on the back foot with depleted ranks which is a drawback to hold their positions in Kilinochchi and Paranthan against the full strength of the troops.

As the main battle continues in the edges of Kilinochchi, the newly formed Task Force IV under the command of Colonel Nishantha Wanniarachchi, managed to capture Nedunkerni in the South of Oddusudan taking a vital area in the Mullaitivu district.

The Task Force I troops linked with the Task Force II troops under the command of Brigadier Rohana Bandara in Nedunkerni area. Once Task Force IV troops links up with the 59 Division troops now operating just four and half Kilometres South West of Mullaitivu, it will create the biggest ever front against the LTTE from Jaffna lagoon to the Mullaitivu coast. As of yesterday, the 59 Division troops managed to take Mulliyavali village and Thanniattu villages South West of Mullaitivu after capturing three defence lines created by the LTTE to stop the troops advance towards Mullaitivu.

Troops of the 7 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Chaminda Lamahewa took control of the Thanniattu village by Thursday evening. The area is now being cleared as it was infected with booby traps and mines.

Amidst these progresses the Task Force III, operating under the command of Brigadier Satyapriya Liyanage, also captured second airstrip of the LTTE North of Ampakamam in the East of A-9 road and South East of Iranamadu.

The troops of the 632 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Subhashana Welikala achieved this victory and are heading towards the main airstrip of the LTTE located East of Iranamadu tank marching through a booby traps and land mined stretch. These moves will definitely pave the way for troops to reach the areas where the LTTE is keeping innocent civilians as hostages. Though the number of civilians fleeing from the Tigers saw a significant increase, a large number of civilians is yet to be freed by the Security Forces.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a fervent appeal to the LTTE to release these innocent civilians giving an indication that the LTTE would be proscribed if they do not adhere to this request.So, it is obvious that exactly a year after withdrawing from the ceasefire, the Government is heading towards proscribing the LTTE if they continue to harass the Tamil civilians further.

The year which is going to dawn next Thursday, would be a challenging one for the Security Forces.

The increased support of the common masses is vital at this juncture of the war against terror as they are the real strength behind the Security Forces’ victories.


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