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Military Matters


LTTE poised to launch
major attack on Jaffna town

By Wilson Gnanadass
While Southern politicians were busy this week preparing themselves for the forthcoming North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections, in the northern theatre of war, the climate was different.

Tension continued to pervade the town of Jaffna after fresh warning was issued by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), threatening to take control of the town this week.

The LTTE warning, though was taken with a pinch of salt by the government troops, given their prowess in defeating the LTTE in the east, was taken stock of by the northern commanders.
As the warning from the LTTE came last week that the Tigers were now ready to capture Jaffna town, the government troops were put on red alert.

According to intelligence sources, the LTTE is to launch a major onslaught on the government troops on Thursday (19) and Friday (20), and thereafter take control of the town.
As this message was conveyed to the people of the north, they began to panic. People began to purchase their provisions and started to hoard them. They even decided to stay indoors, fearing that they would fall victims to the crossfire that will erupt between the Tigers and the government troops, in the event a clash broke out between these two warring factions.

The day to day business in Jaffna town following the Tiger warning has been hampered and in most of the areas, doors are shut.
Already, the LTTE has begun artillery attacks on the people living in the coastal belts in Gurunagar, Pasaiur and Kolumbuthurai. The LTTE is launching the attacks from Kalmunai point in Jaffna.
Therefore, the climate appears to be tense and the people expect eruption of war in the heart of Jaffna at any moment.

LTTE’s message
To the government troops, the LTTE’s message may not be threatening, but to the civilians it gives shivers.
The clear message from the LTTE came from Kalmunai point last week, where the LTTE is operating from.
The message was conveyed through the fishermen from Jaffna town who went there on their usual errands last week.
The LTTE cadres who met with fishermen from the Jaffna town, had told them that the LTTE was planning to attack Jaffna town on June 19 and 20 and that civilians should move away from the sea areas.

Taking every word uttered by the Tiger cadres seriously, the fishermen had returned to the town to convey the message to their kith and kin and others around. This message was also duly conveyed to the government troops in general and the northern commander Major General G. A. Chandrasiri, in particular.
Thereafter, Maj.Gen. Chandrasiri acted quickly to plan out a security network for the civilians and others.

Attacks on media

While the LTTE was planning to infiltrate the northern town, intelligence reports had reached Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri that the LTTE was going to mount fresh attacks on media organisations based in Jaffna.
Upon receiving this message, Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri immediately summoned senior journalists from all three newspapers published in Jaffna, last Wednesday (11) for a briefing.

The three major newspapers published in Jaffna are Uthayan, Valampuri and Yal Thinakkural.
Senior representatives of the three newspapers who met Gen. Chandrasiri had questioned him on what basis he was planning to provide security to the newspaper offices.

In response, he had told them that the army headquarters in Colombo had informed him that the newspapers were going to come under attack and that he was therefore planning to provide additional security.

The government had already provided Uthayan newspaper police protection after the paper came under attack some time ago.
However, Gen. Chandrasiri further increased the security to Uthayan and also set up a mobile patrol to give protection to the newspaper.

Similarly, the other two newspapers were also given police and army protection.
Gen. Chandrasiri gave an assurance to the journalists that the government will not allow any force to attack the newspapers or the journalists.
Jaffna SSP S. Karunaratne thereafter was requested to oversee the security provided to the three newspapers.

Curfew extended

In a bid to further strengthen security in the Jaffna town, the curfew that had already been imposed for the past two years, was further extended by a period of two additional hours.
Earlier, the curfew was effective from 9.00 p.m. to 4.30 a.m. but from last Monday (9), the curfew was imposed from 7.00 p.m. to 5.00 a.m. the following day.

Besides this, a fresh decision was also taken to restrict movement while the army convoys moved from place to place.
Previously, while the convoy was moving the people were allowed to move around. But, according to a fresh decision that was brought into motion, with effect from last Monday (9), the movements of the public were restricted for three hours, when the convoys were on the move. The movements were effected on the main roads of Palaly, KKS, Point Pedro and A9.
The government has also increased the mobile petrol owing to the fresh threats by the LTTE.

Restriction on fishing

Severe restriction was also imposed on fishing in the event the LTTE launched attacks as promised.
If the LTTE launched their attacks as vowed, it is the fishermen who would become the most vulnerable targets. Already, fisher folks living in the sea areas are feeling the heat of the war, as continuous attacks had been launched by the LTTE from Kalmunai point to the coastal belts in the north.

With a view to bringing about considerable minimum civilian casualties, the government also restricted fishing for one week.
According to the fresh regulation, the fishermen are debarred from fishing in the sea for one week. According to defence sources, this regulation could also be further extended depending on the situation. “If the situation improves, then the ban would be lifted and the fishermen would be asked to carry on fishing. But otherwise, there is a possibility of this ban being further extended as a precautionary measure,” defence sources said.
This regulation was also introduced by the government last Monday (9).

A dream?
Meanwhile, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said capturing Jaffna by the Tiger rebels can only be their dream and nothing else.

He said the security situation in the North is well under control and there was no need to panic.
He said the government has taken measures to minimise civilian casualties and added that regaining Jaffna by the Tigers was not possible, given the number of security personnel deployed there.

“Of course there can be claymore attacks targeting eminent people. The LTTE can resort to employing pistol groups and these groups can inflict injuries and even death to many. But, the LTTE cannot infiltrate or take over the north,” he said.

“Infiltration” he said could be possible only by, what he described as ‘sleeping cadres,’ who he further referred to as Tigers who were mingling with the people and sleeping there with a motive to launch attacks on civilians and other vital targets.
Brig. Nanayakkara assured that the government troops were ready to counter any attacks launched by the LTTE in the north.

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