Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Final stage of the war...

Injuries are reported to the LTTE's head of Intelligence Poddu Amman and head of Internal Secret Intelligence Kapil Amman in two air strikes at Puthukudirippu. Both men have received minor injuries but have been shocked by the accuracy of the attack, escaped LTTE Intelligence Wing cadres have told the Army.

Meanwhile LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran's son has also been injured in his shoulder after he joined 600 others in penetrating the 58 FDL several weeks ago. Fighting in the last stretch of the A-35 has intensified in an area covered in coconut trees and other vegetation. LTTE is firing heavy volumes of 130mm canons, a weapon thought to have been abandoned by the Tigers.

The flow of civilians to government areas has again increased with 6-7000 within a 7-day period with 2000 returning today alone.

The 55 Division, particularly the Mechanized Infantry Division, launched a devastating attack on a cluster of LTTE boats using Baktarshikan/Red Arrow missiles and 30mm canons killing over two dozen Sea Tigers off the coast of Chalai. The cluster of boats had earlier driven away a small RABS unit of the Navy which attempted to engage them at sea.

Meanwhile a popular TV personality reporting on the war for a national TV channel has been apprehended on a tip-off with a haul of electronic goods stolen from an LTTE compound by the Medawachchiya Police. An Army Liaisons Officer appointed to him is now in the Army Cell awaiting court martial. The TV personality, however, will get away with it scott free.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

LTTE concentrated fire on the 1 kilometer its left with

Heavy fighting continues in an area roughly the size of a square kilometer in Puthukudirippu, ahead of the no-fire zone. Task Force 8, the 58 and also the 53 took the brunt of a massive artillery and mortar attack almost carpeting the small area covered in coconut trees during the last two days. Though casualties are reported exact numbers are not available at this time.

Any further advances into the no-fire zone will take time as the Army cannot use its heavy firepower while the Tigers use all the fire power they can muster from gun positions situated inside IDP settlements.

The flow of civilians was continuing steadily until today when only 90 civilians reached Army controlled areas due to the massive shelling from the LTTE. As the week progresses more civilians are expected to come into government areas. So far around 55,000 civilians have returned to government areas. No agency has accurate estimates of the numbers still trapped in the no-fire zone.

Meanwhile the LTTE's cream has started abandoning the organization. The Director of the LTTE's Vanni Institute of Technology (VIT) surrendered to the Army a few days ago. A former Assistant Lecturer at the University of Peradeniya, the VIT Director graduated from the same school as a Computer Engineer and was later recruited by the LTTE while visiting his wife in the Vanni.

Monday, March 23, 2009

LTTE waits for Vaiko as Special Forces do their antics

Military Intelligence has uncovered evidence to indicate that Velupillai Prabhakaran, Poddu Amman and many of the other senior members of the LTTE are holed-in along with the civilians. "Colonel" Swarnam's leg has been amputated and a large number of cadres in the "Lt. Colonel" rank have died in recent battles.

In many ways the second, third and fourth rung of the LTTE cadre has suffered heavily. "Colonel" Lakshman's wife, an LTTE "Doctor" and the Director of the LTTE's Keerthika Hospital has been killed. The Leader of the LTTE's Mine-laying unit (called Ponnammaan) has also been killed in fighting.

MIC has received credible intelligence that the LTTE was planning to hold on to the remaining area until end of April or May at the most. They expect Vaiko and other LTTE supporters from Tamil Nadu to win the forthcoming elections for the 15th Lok Sabha in India and a subsequent Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile a large band of hardcore Tigers and suicide bombers who infiltrated the 58 FDL recently have started their operations. Last week a patrol from 4 Special Forces brought in to re-instruct the 58 Division's FDL following the attack reported by us some weeks ago was targeted by an LTTE Black Tiger Commando unit.

A Corporal in a Special Forces-like uniform, bandana, beard and ALICE Pack was approaching the SF team. An experienced SF Sergeant leading the team, almost by instinct, saw through the plan. Without any questioning, the SF Sergeant opened fire felling the Corporal on the spot before he could approach the team. The Corporal turned out to be an LTTE suicide bomber with an ALICE pack packed full of explosives enough to wipe out an entire SF company.

On February 2nd, another SF soldier from 4 SF demonstrated a similar last minute, jaw-breaking stunt when he and is 12-man team was tasked to ambush LTTE suicide vehicles plying the Puthukudirippu Oddusudan road following a Cease-less Wave type of attack the Tigers launched on January 30th aimed at recapturing Mulaitivu on Independence Day 4th of February.

Having suddenly observed an cab and estimating that it was packed full of explosives, the SF soldier functioning in the RPG post launched an RPG-7 HEAT at the approaching cab at very close range. The cab exploded and the soldier sacrificed his life to save his teammates who were dug in safely inside foxholes behind him.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Civilians come trickling in again

The flow of civilians into Army's hands has again increased thanks to the efforts of the 55 Division. This week alone some 8,000 civilians escaped the LTTE's clutches. 1,400 escaped and handed themselves over to the Army today. Some of these civilians have escaped with gunshot wounds caused by LTTE attack teams along the way.

The IDPs often have blood-chilling experiences to tell. They claimed today that at least 25 bodies of Tamil civilians killed while escaping from forced LTTE detention centers within the last few days by the LTTE were now floating on the Chalai lagoon.

Many Human Rights groups and NGOs have criticized what they are allowed to see, which is the rehabilitation centers operated by the government. They claim the civilians are being held in "Illegal Detention Centers" in Vavuniya. The western experience of Nazi concentration camps does not apply to the centers in Vavuniya as the former is to herd people to slaughter while the latter is to keep them from harms way.

These organizations have little or no firsthand experience on what is actually happening inside LTTE controlled areas. They charge the centers are heavily guarded by the Army and question why civilians are held inside impenetrable camps surrounded by barbed-wire fences.

The reality these organizations do not understand is that the fortifications are for the protection of the civilians themselves, who have turned their backs on the LTTE and made a perilous journey to safety. The LTTE considers them to be traitors and will make every effort to 'punish' them. These civilians have to be protected at all costs since the motivation to escape from the LTTE's clutches was the lack of security in the first place.

A large number of hardcore LTTE cadres hiding among the civilians have been identified by the Army and, due to prevailing political conditions, have been handed over to the Police where they have been produced in court in accordance with the law. From that point onwards the Vavuniya Magistrate would take-over and dispatch these cadres to either rehabilitation camps or to their respective families.

The government, at this point in time, is willing to overlook the possibility of the cadres reorganizing themselves as part of an insurgency/terrorist movement. The Army has to tag this line of the government without questioning. This is despite MI warnings of buries LTTE weapons and explosives dumps and suicide cadres hiding among the civilians.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Army suffers temporary setback

The Army suffered a setback last weekend when around 600 hardcore LTTE cadres infiltrated the FDL of the Army's 58 Division from the general area Puthukudirippu North. A group of around 200 cadres who attempted to flank the 55 and 58 were massacred by 3 Special Forces and 2 Commandos after the 55 Division spotted them early on.

Although Military Intelligence had warned of a possible infiltration, the 58 Division had not taken the warning seriously. The 600 member LTTE team was led by Lawrence and Swarnam and around 200 of them had escaped back to LTTE dominated areas after dismantling the 58 FDL. It is believed that the body of Lawrence is among those recovered by the SLA.

A group of around 200 more are still inside SLA dominated areas. Troop movement along the A-9 has stopped due to fear of attacks on soldiers returning on leave. The 58 was unable to bridge the broken FDL until the Special Forces and the 57 Division arrived.

Today a team of Tigers from the infiltration team captured an Army Artillery Gun Position and destroyed 3 130mm canons after turning the guns against the SLA. The Tigers had infiltrated 10-12km into SLA dominated areas to capture the position, which is situated near the former IDP camp in Kilinochchi where a woman suicide bomber blew herself up some time ago.

The Army had 200 casualties on the 7th alone, which included 70 killed. After helping the 58 regroup from its setback, the Special Forces will now hunt the Tigers down, which will be somewhat difficult as they are wearing SLA uniforms and reinforced by weapons and food dumps yet unrecovered by the 58. Many were expecting the LTTE to breach the coast from Nagarkovil to Puthumathalang by sea but the 55 Division had made the coastline unbreachable.

Friday, March 6, 2009

LTTE's old tactics no match for the 'new' SL Army

Heavy fighting ensued south of Chalai in general area Mulaitivu when a wave of LTTE infiltrators and attack teams targeted a weak point in the forward marching divisions last morning. The infiltrators were first spotted by the 55 Division as they targeted the boundary of two brigades of the 55 and 58 Divisions. The exact casualties to both sides will be revealed later.

During Oyatha Alaikal 1, 2 and 3, the Tigers successfully collapsed the Army's divisions by attacking them at the seam. This usually results in the two respective Divisions and their affected Brigades, Battalions all the way down to a platoon being split, thus opening up a gap through which the Tigers could flank the Divisions.

But this type of operation requires high morale, manpower and firepower on the part of the Tigers and weak leadership and morale and also inferior field tactics and strategies on the part of the Army, both of which were unavailable yesterday. A tactic like this will have little effect particularly on an Army which has 3 Divisions, 5 Task Forces and a Special Forces Brigade on reserve.

In many of the unfortunate occasions where this has happened to the Army, it happened due to low morale and inferior leadership on the part of some officers. Some Field Commanders-- from Platoon COs upto Brigade COs were concentrating on their own respective unit and not on the counter attack.

Meanwhile the LTTE has started another scam to discredit the Army and to give their fighters a fighting chance. The scam is to pose-off injured fighters as civilians who are handed over to the ICRC inside the civilian safety zone. From there these 'civilians' are registered by the ICRC and handed-over the the Sri Lanka Navy. The Navy will then transport them to Trincomalee Hospital.

Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence have so far identified 30-40 such fighters from among the 'civilians'. They cannot be arrested or detained nor can they be rehabilitated like surrendees. If they are resettled once recovered from the wounds, there is a possibility that they might operate as insurgents from among the civilians.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rathnam Master's last stand

Task Force 8 finally reached the Puthukudirippu junction yesterday. Fighting still continues in the major part of the town as the density of LTTE fighters has increased due to loss of terrain.

Advance of FIBUA units is conducted at dawn or dusk as Tigers occupying civilian houses and public buildings direct heavy volumes of 12.7mm and mounted 23mm and 30mm canon fire at the advancing units. Often taking cover inside buildings is hazardous due to trappings.

Many of the infamous LTTE leaders have all been relegated now. The man leading the battle against the Army is Rathnam Master, the LTTE's head of Military Intelligence. Rathnam Master was a personal bodyguard of Prabha and perhaps his closest and most capable commander right now. With orders to shoot any deserters, Rathnam Master's ruthlesness seems to be keeping the other Tiger leaders in line.

The former head of LTTE Military Intelligence, Charles was killed by Major Lalith Jayasinghe, 3 Special Forces Special Reconnaissance/LRRP. Poddu Amman and Kapil Amman are the respective heads of the LTTE's Secret Intelligence.

Unlike Secret Intelligence units, Military Intelligence teams of the LTTE have always been distinguished by a strike capability. This means that not only do they collect intelligence but act on that intelligence as one unit.

Many of the successful LTTE attacks in government controlled areas were coordinated by this unit. The only compatible unit in the Army to LTTE Military Intelligence was the SP/LRRP teams who operated with Army Intelligence units (MIC).

Rathnam Master wasn't identified for years due to the secretive nature of his operational engagements. Poddu Amman's image was released by the media and Kapil Amman, a baldheaded middleaged man was identified some time ago as well. But a photo of Rathnam Master wasn't found until two weeks ago when an album abandoned by the Tigers gave away his identity.

Rathnam Master was the man behind the Anuradhapura airbase and Vavuniya SFHQ attacks. The Army has been studying him for years, particularly since he was appointed the head of Ratha Regiment, Prabha's own protection unit and special operations group.

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