Switched fronts: Tiger targets fail
Changes in Army after Buttala attack
is one long year since the first battles to wrest control of the Madhu
area and the subsequent ones to penetrate the Wanni. No doubt, the Madhu
region is still within Tiger territory.
It would soon be a year since President Rajapaksa had an audience with
Pope Benedict XVI. It was on the sidelines of this meeting that
President Rajapaksa discussed with the Vatican Secretary, the difficulty
pilgrims from the South had visiting Madhu, which is under Tiger
Military top brass have constantly declared that the battles in Wanni
were not waged just for territory. So, faulting the Military for failing
to penetrate the Wanni, after prolonged fighting, was futile.
Tiger artillery still counts
This column has said that, from the inception of the battles in this
region, it would not be a cake-walk. This column also warned that the
decisive arsenal on the LTTE side were its long-range artillery and the
ability to move them around strategically.
This is probably why the Military is yet to undertake a sustained
assault by marching its columns into the Wanni. Limited operations have
been successfully undertaken with the express intent of eliminating
Tigers in a war of attrition, which we have discussed previously.
The LTTE has maintained that its real fighting formations have been
spared, for the real battles ahead. This week we saw the LTTE deploy
some of the experienced fighting formations for the pitched battles in
Mannar, suggesting that it was running out of cannon fodder.
To the LTTE’s credit, it has been able to dig in for a defensive war,
while waiting for the morale-boosting battle that has eluded it so far.
Besides the Army, the Navy and, specifically, the Air Force, have sought
and destroyed Tiger assets. SLAF fighter jets have destroyed ammunition
dumps, oil storage tanks, manufacturing sites, training camps,
conference and communication centres and even underground bunkers of its
leaders. The frequency of the air raids are simply blunting the Tigers
will to fight, but perhaps nudging it into acts of terror, even going
for soft targets.
But, evidently, the SLAF has not been able to destroy Tiger artillery
gun positions, notwithstanding such claims. This is why the LTTE is
still able to keep its head up. But for how long, we would have to wait
Vigilance against Tiger terror
Both sides are employing Psy Ops as a strategy to demoralise the
While the Army is unrelenting in pushing over, the LTTE, from time to
time, has shifted the battlefront to Colombo City, suburbs, and to other
rural southern districts such as Moneragala, Hambantota Polonnaruwa and
Anuradhapura, to blunt the government’s will to fight.
Somehow, the Tigers have failed to reach their real targets. Even
yesterday, they were forced to explode in desperation at Mount Lavinia,
injuring 18 civilians. It was the vigilance of the civilians that forced
the passengers off the bus, on seeing a suspected brief case. The
suicide bomber who exploded at the Fort railway station three weeks
back, also did so when confronted. The Tigers have failed to get at
their desired targets in many more attempts, thanks to the vigilance of
the security forces and the civilians.
On Thursday, Naval personnel on patrol in Kerawalapitiya, closer to
Mahabage, detected 20 kgs of explosives concealed at a construction site
along the Katunayake express highway.
MI saves Presidential carnage
Military Intelligence (MI), too, has played a significant role in Eelam
For instance, MI was able to avert a major disaster, when the LTTE’s
elaborate plan to target the convoy of President Rajapakse and his
family was unearthed.
LTTE suspects Ramesh, Vathsala, Vadini and several others were arrested
on information. Vathsala confessed that a Japanese interpreter working
at the Presidential Secretariat, had agreed to help her infiltrate
President’s House. The suspect is now in custody. Meanwhile, security
forces suspect that the priests who were arrested in Mannar and Nuwara
Eliya with 23 suicide jackets, and the suspects led by Ramesh, were
members of one group targeting the President.
Inquiries revealed that the Tigers had planned to use eight LTTE cadres
armed with RPGs to attack the motorcade. They had planned to launch a
simultaneous attack on the three bulletproof cars in the motorcade.
Identifying the particular vehicle used by the President or the Defence
Secretary was difficult, hence, the modus operandi. Their plan was to
attack the motorcade using a van, even as the bulletproof cars were to
be attacked using RPG fire.
While the top defence brass and influential politicians have been spared
in Colombo, the Tigers have simultaneously sought to cause a fear
psychosis in Buttala and other places in the Moneragala and Hambantota
Districts, with attacks on security forces and police personnel, not to
A total of 16 security force personnel have been killed in the deep
south by the LTTE, since the attack on Thalgasmankawdawala Army
checkpoint last October.
Several Sinhala civilians in Moneragala and Thanamalvila areas are
learnt to be supporting the Tigers in exchange for money, according to
A group of commandos recently chased off a group of illicit gem miners
within Yala sanctuary, where they were operating under political
patronage. Later, the secretary of a politician called Brigade
headquarters in Hambantota, and complained against the soldiers. How
illicit gem miners operate amidst LTTE attacks in the area, has
surprised the Army.
Security forces have received information that ganja cultivators supply
food to the Tigers. It is obvious that jungle tracks are used by the
Tigers under the guidance of the poachers.
Deliver or move out
This week, too, the Tigers killed three soldiers erecting a road
barrier in Dambakote, Buttala.
Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka removed Brig. Sudantha Ranasinghe
who was in charge of the Buttala area and brought him to Colombo.
Brig. Ranasinghe was replaced by Col. Devinda Peiris, who took over as
Centre Commandant of the Artillery Regiment, from Col. B.J.F. Rodrigo
just two months back.
Since the Colonel Commandant of the Artillery Regiment, Nissanka
Wijesinghe was appointed Chief of Staff, the Centre Commandant could now
be a Brigadier. Brig. Rukmal Dias in charge of Colombo security, is
likely to be appointed as Centre Commandant of the Artillery Regiment.
By constantly moving officers around, the military has tried to ensure
greater efficacy not only in providing security in Colombo, but also in