as good as fallen
the well rehearsed pundits may say of their oft repeated manthram about
“there can never be a military solution to the conflict”, for the
security forces (SF), what has worked is the strategy of ‘either kill or
be killed’, when dealing with the Tigers. And that is the only thing
that the LTTE understands and the only thing that has brought the forces
Even under the internationally sponsored cease-fire, the Tigers stuck to
their sole aim of wiping out anyone who stood in their way, as if they
were the sole proprietors of terror tactics. Now, they are being paid
back with interest. There is no other option left to an elected
government. But, at the same time, now is also the time to guarantee the
Tamils and, for that matter, all citizens of this country, their right
to live without any fear for their life, limb and property as equal
the fight to the Tigers
With the SF on the offensive from about the middle of 2006, after
repeated Tiger provocations, like numerous ambushes staged against
troops observing the Norwegian drafted cease-fire, attempt on the life
of the Army Commander in April 2006 and the shutting down of water from
Mavil Aru, the Tigers have been celebrating their annual Maha Veerar Day
(Great Heroes’ Day) on November 27, in increasingly subdued terms,
unlike in the past, when they staged some spectacular attacks in
November. The day prior to Maha Veerar Day also marks Prabhakaran’s 54th
birthday. So, now, it has literally come to the point of do or die for
the Tiger supremo himself. It is interesting to note that, the
Norwegians were solely interested in selling the much violated
cease-fire to the government of Sri Lanka, despite their pet, the Tiger,
violating it at will.
Army Commander Lt. Gen Sarath Fonseka, who has easily outperformed the
LTTE in this strategy of matching their tactics, declared last Monday in
Anuradhapura that, “within a matter of three weeks, we were able to
eliminate 488 Tiger cadres, while recovering 60 of those bodies. Never
in the history of the Army have we fought the enemy face to face nonstop
like this. Prabhakaran has boasted that, the capture of Kilinochchi by
the SF, is only a daydream of President Rajapakasa. It is not a
daydream, but will be a living record. We will attack the enemy day and
night. Despite these terrorist boasts, no one can undervalue the Army’s
victories.” He was speaking at the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the
Adding more muscle
Obviously, with that strategy in mind, the Army inducted its newest
fighting unit, Task Force 111 against the Tigers in the Kilinochchi
District last Monday, to supplement Task Force 111 and the 57 Division
that have already accounted very well against the enemy west of the A-9
Highway. Task Force 111 has taken up position in between 57 Division and
Task force 11 in the general area west of A-9 between Kokavil and
On the first day itself, 7th Sinha Regiment, operating under 63-3
Brigade of this Task Force, killed six Tigers and also managed to
recover two bodies along with their weapons from their bunkers. Later
intercepts of Tiger communications revealed that, more than 20 other
cadres had been injured in this first encounter. Then, on Thursday, it
had much greater success in an operation conducted in Kokavil South. At
the end of which, it recovered bodies of seven Tiger cadres, along with
a General Purpose Machine Gun, five T-56 assault rifles and one T-81
rifle. In this encounter, it has been established that at least 20
Tigers were killed.
Though the Army can take over a wide swathe of the A-9 Highway at any
time, it is not doing it so as to maintain the humanitarian supply line
to Tiger held areas via Omanthai. But this has not prevented it from
taking out Tiger movements on this vital roadway linking Jaffna and
Kandy. This has been done so well by the 57-4 Brigade under Lt. Col.
Senaka Wijesuriya, that the Tigers have stopped using much of this road.
The 16th Sinha Regiment, waiting in ambush for a Tiger target on the A-9
for several weeks, suddenly came across an armour plated tractor last
Sunday and immediately engaged it, killing a Tiger cadre and wounding
two others. On the previous day, early morning, the same unit fired at a
suspicious ground movement. It was later revealed that three Tigers had
been killed in the attack. On the same day, the 10th Light Infantry had
fired at a Tiger movement on its stretch of A-9, killing five of them.
With things getting too hot for the Tigers on all fronts and India
realising that the LTTE would attempt to find safe havens in Tamil Nadu,
it has, in recent days and weeks, deployed additional vessels to prevent
Tiger infiltration, especially, into its southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Next stop Pooneryn
The way Task Force 1, led by Brig. Shavendra Silva, is advancing along
the A-32 Highway and its surroundings, with Commandos and Special Forces
spearheading operations behind enemy lines, it all points to this road
link between Jaffna and the South being reopened long before A-9,
through the restoration of the Sengupiddy causeway.
With the last remaining Tiger strongpoint on this stretch, Pooneryn
likely to fall in the coming weeks, if not within the next few days, the
taking of the A-32 will also mean the reopening of a land link to Jaffna
after about 20 years. It gradually fell into LTTE hands with the
departure of the IPKF in early 1990. Task Force 1 troops are now only
some seven kilometers from the Jaffna lagoon on this route and only
about five kilometers from Paranthan-Pooneryn road. Once the Paranthan
road is interdicted, there is no way the LTTE can hold on to Pooneryn
and its smuggling operations with Tamil Nadu on the western coast too
The LTTE, in the past, had established fortified positions in Pooneryn
on the lagoon side, expecting a sea borne assault across the lagoon.
With troops advancing day and night, disregarding the monsoon, they have
now arrived in the area, much to the surprise of the Tigers. With
commando and Special Forces units operating behind enemy lines it will
not be long before troops attack the strategic town from front and the
With the opening of A-32, not only will key SF positions in the
peninsula such as Palali be safe from Tiger artillery, it will also
facilitate easy transport of troops between Jaffna and the rest of the
country by land. At present, all troop movement between the peninsula
and the South is by either sea or air. It also means that, Naval
resources, now deployed to provide cover to troop transport vessels, can
be used for more vital patrol duties. It is also expected to bring down
the cost of transporting goods to the peninsula.
Small is effective
This week, small commando units operating along the A-32 and on its
western side, continued their ambushes to interdict Tiger supply lines.
In one attack staged in the Kiranchi area, on the right side of A-32, a
tractor load of Tiger cadres were taken out, killing 10 of them. On the
same day, in Madam area, six more were killed. Due to these unceasing
ambushes, the LTTE later withdrew from Kiranchi village and Palavi area.
Troops of 11th Light Infantry, led by Lt. Col. Kithsiri Ekanayake, on
Tuesday broke through a Tiger defence line constructed at Palliyalkulam.
They recovered bodies of two Tigers along with five assault rifles,
three communication sets and a tractor load of food items. Lt. Kasun
Ranchagoda of Charlie Company led the assault. Capt. Lalantha Kollure
leading Delta Company of the same regiment last Saturday destroyed three
bunkers situated West of Palliyalkulam. Here they recovered the bodies
of 11 Tiger cadres, along with their weapons and a communication set.
Three eight-member teams undertook this successful operation.
“Pooneryn’s fall will free the four fighting Divisions now deployed on
the west of A-9, to take on the entire east of the A-9. Already, Tigers
are without any strength south of Mankulam, with only five of their
cadres remaining at Omanthai. Below Mankulam, they have already
abandoned their positions in Puttur and Puliyankulam. We have bypassed
Kilinochchi and advanced 10 kms. north on its left flank”, Gen. Fonseka
Troops of 57 Division, under the command of Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias,
bagged a big prize this week, when they captured the entire village of
Akkarayankulam on Thursday. The 12th Sinha Regiment, led by Lt. Col.
Jayampathy Bandara, and the 9th Gajaba, led by Lt. Col. Chandana
Somaweera (both units coming under 57-1 Brigade commanded by Col. G.V.
Ravipriya) were pivotal in the capture of this village. The 12th Sinha
advanced from the west and the 9th Gajaba from the east. In this
operation, 12th Sinha alone had killed about 25 Tigers, in the space of
four days they took to overrun the village. In a clash on Tuesday, it
killed four LTTE cadres and captured a Multi-Purpose Machine gun, one
T-56 assault rifle and a communication set. The 9th Gajaba troops who
too fought their way through the east of the town over several days,
killed about 30 Tigers.
Tiger military commander in Kilinochchi, Banu, later sent three to four
waves of attacks to oust the troops from Akkarayankulam village, without