Thursday, November 1, 2007

Several Updates

Sri Lanka Army's infantry units moving ahead of the Muhamalai Forward Defenceline in Jaffna last morning destroyed an LTTE bunkerline killing ten LTTE cadres. Their bodies were left behind due to logistical problems. The Army has also intensified shelling and artillery strikes on identified LTTE targets ahead of the Vavuniya FDL this morning. Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Air Force is continuing air-strikes on pre-identified targets. The most recent attack was on an LTTE intelligence gathering place in Puthukudiiruppu on Monday, an attack on an LTTE Sea Tiger base on Tuesday and an LTTE training base in Weli Oya this morning. The locations of the targets were gathered prior to the loss of the UAVs.

Two members of the Army's Elite Special Forces were killed in a bunker-busting operation ahead of the Mannar Forward Defenceline. The two men were part of an 8-man team from the 2nd Special Forces Brigade that had to face unusual resistance from the LTTE in a thick jungle area. The two men got trapped and laid down their lives valiantly killing six LTTE cadres in the process. The thick jungle covering prevented the other six men from getting to the two men who got trapped and the terrain provided the LTTE an opportunity to seize the remains of the two soldiers, whose bodies have since been returned through the Red Cross. Contrary to Pro-LTTE Media, these were not members of the Special Forces Long Range Reconnaissance Team (LRRP/LRS). By the time this is written, the SLA has overrun the LTTE's FDL in Mannar killing over twenty LTTE cadres in a fresh offensive launched by the SLA this morning.

Meanwhile many senior officers of the Military commended President Mahinda Rajapakse's decision to withdraw the Media Censorship Law. They are of the opinion that almost all Sinhala and English Media and some Tamil Media are faithful to the Military, but had no option but criticize the lapses at the Anuradhapura Airbase. They claimed these exposures are warranted given the negligence and serious lapses in security at the base. They further believe that civilians have the right to information regarding the management of the war, acquisition or destruction of military assets etc given they do not unduly assist the enemy.


Sam Perera said...

My thoughts are with the loved ones of those heroic sons of Sri Lanka. May they be born again in my country in a peaceful time without terrorists!

asithrimodaya said...

In Sri Lanka, war dead don't add up

by Amal Jayasinghe

COLOMBO (AFP) - Judging by Sri Lankan government accounts of Tamil Tiger dead after decades of fighting, there should hardly be any rebels left.
click here

Yet the guerrillas keep on fighting, and apparently dying in large numbers -- pointing either to an unlimited pool of combatants or a government wish to boost morale by playing up its prowess on the battlefield.

Analysts suspect it is more a case of the latter.

"There is a huge propaganda war going on to show that more people are being killed," said defence analyst Namal Perera.

"The new battlefield is the media."

Retired army colonel Susantha Seneviratne agreed there was "an exaggeration of Tiger casualties," after a week in which the government has reported around a dozen dead each day.

"This is not unique to Sri Lanka. Almost every army in the world does it," he said. "It is to help maintain morale."

There is no independent verification of casualties and journalists are not allowed to travel to the rebel mini-state in the north or the frontline, but experts and analysts agree the government figures do not add up.

Sri Lanka's chief military spokesman, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, insisted official figures only had a margin of error of "about 10 percent".

"Sometimes ground troops might see a terrorist falling and count him as dead, but he may only be seriously wounded," Nanayakkara explained.

"If we get the information from (Tiger) radio communications, then the numbers are accurate."

Although government forces have made major progress in battling the Tigers over the past year, including ousting them from their last stronghold in the east, there have been embarrassing setbacks.

In March the Tigers, who are fighting for an independent homeland, carried out their first air strike on Sri Lankan forces using what were believed to be two training planes smuggled into the island in bits and flown from a jungle air strip.

Last week, an elite suicide squad of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) infiltrated a key air base and virtually wiped out the fleet of spy planes used to spot rebel movements and bases.

Since then the defence ministry has been producing a handsome Tamil Tiger body count, while government troops barely suffer a scratch.

The security forces say they killed 3,284 Tiger rebels between December 2005, when a Norwegian-brokered truce began falling apart, and September this year.

Independent estimates put the size of the LTTE force at between 5,000 and 12,000 men and women -- meaning that at this rate of killing they should soon be running out of recruits.

Senior officials have in the past claimed there were only 500 Tiger rebels left, or that 85 percent of the guerrilla army had been wiped out.

"Statistics that lie in defence of the realm," the pro-opposition Leader newspaper said in a recent headline, citing the government claims.

"The defence ministry is... lying to the people by detailing exaggerated figures of the number of Tigers killed to achieve petty short term political objectives."

The defence ministry has now removed the overall tally of rebel dead from its website, but still gives a hefty daily toll.

Sunanda Deshapriya, director at the private Centre for Policy Alternatives think-tank, said the figures were clearly being massaged.

"By projecting a high number of people killed the parties have reduced the value of life," Deshapriya said.

"Killings are now generally accepted by society as a done thing, and the more the merrier."

According to Seneviratne, who writes on defence issue in local newspapers, the high Tiger casualties claimed by the military could backfire.

"When the fighting has been going on for so long and after claiming such heavy losses if you still can't beat them, then there is a credibility issue," Seneviratne told AFP.

"The high losses indicate that they (the Tigers) have committed fighters ready to die for a cause... You only give the impression that they are a very large force. They are not."

The LTTE releases its overall death toll in the last week of November, when it observes a "heroes week" to commemorate the war dead.

Last year, they paid respects to 18,742 cadres killed since 1982.

Independent analysts believe that overall, government forces have suffered similar losses.

Defencewire said...

We estimate around 30,000 or more LTTE casualties since 1982 and around 20,000 casualties from Army, Navy, AF and Police. Ret. Col. Susantha Seneviratne was a good officer from Gemunu Watch.

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