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Military Matters


ARMY ENTERS THE LAST BASTION

The 58 Division this week came across a Tiger training camp for airmen. A ten feet long plane had been gutted by the fleeing LTTE. It is believed that it was destroyed when the LTTE found it difficult to move it to a safer location. Troops also found bombs made for the LTTE’s Zlin aircraft, and a German book on manufacturing those bombs was also found

Heavy fighting was reported yesterday from several parts of Pudukudyirippu, as the troops moved into the last bastion of the LTTE from several directions.

The 14 Gajaba Regiment of the newly established Task Force VIII under the command of Col G.V. Ravipriya and the 14 Vijayaba Regiment of the 53 Division under Brig. Kamal Gunaratne were advancing from the south of this last major town held by the Tigers, while Brig. Shavendra Silva’s 58 Brigade was moving in from other directions.

Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka said that the advancing forces entered the town on Friday from the south and by then the enemy area of control had been reduced to 45 sq. kms.

As the war front got reduced, Brig. Rohana Bandara led Task Force II, was withdrawn from combat operations and redeployed to the rear as a reserve unit.

Accordingly at present, only 58 Division, the Task Force VIII and Task Force IV under the command of Col. Nishantha Wanniarachchi are in the Pudukudyirippu front for the final battle. The Task Force IV too is scheduled to be redeployed to the rear defence. A regiment of the 53 Division too is in the Pudukudyirippu front.

The 55 Division under the Command of Brig. Prasanna de Silva will continue the advance south from Chalai along the coastal belt and the 59 Division under Brig. Nandana Udawatta, from Wadduwakal in Mullaitivu.

Meanwhile, the LTTE continued their attacks with 122mm artillery guns from the 12-km strip of safe zone demarcated for civilians along the Mullaitivu beach.

“We have identified from where they attack. They have installed artillery guns in the neutral zone for the civilians. However, we will not retaliate so as to avoid civilian casualties,” said a senior military official.

Earlier, LTTE leaders mingled with the civilians in the Pudukudiruppu neutral zone, to prevent military operations. Under the circumstances, military operations in the area were at a slow pace last week. However, the security forces (SF) intensified operations to take Pudukudyirippu, on the instructions of the Army Chief, after the civilians moved to the present neutral zone declared from previous Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias who was seconded to the 59 Division during the short lived massive assault launched by the LTTE in the run up to the Independence Day to recapture Mulaitivu Town, has returned to the Command of his 57 Division having completed his assigned task.

Because of the dedication of the heroic forces who fought valiantly to beat back the waves of attacks launched by the terrorists on Independence Day, the last major attempt of the Tigers to turn the war around too was foiled.

Meanwhile the 57 Division troops having combed areas recently liberated by them have recovered large haul of arms and ammunition, including claymore mines.

It is believed that the LTTE leaders now trapped mainly in the small area outside the civilian safe zone are planning to carry out a series of suicide attacks during the final showdown. Intelligence has been received about Black Tigers being trained for this task. However, the Security Forces are prepared to face what ever the desperate enemy is ready to throw at them.

As we exclusively reported last week, security forces’ eyes in the sky, the UAVs have confirmed that weapons and Sea Tiger attack craft are being buried in the Mulaitivu beach.
The 58 Division also liberated Ampalavan Pokkanai town by Friday (20).

The Ninth Gemunu Watch, Sixth Gemunu Watch, and the Tenth Infantry Regiments that commenced their operation on February 19, captured the 12 square kilometer area with LTTE camps.

After the capture of Sugandirapuram by the 58 Division last week, the only three towns still under the LTTE were Pudukudiruppu West, Pudukudiruppu East and Ampalawan Pokkanai.
The 11th Infantry, Tenth Gajaba, 12th Gemunu, and Seventh Sinha, Regiments that stormed Pudukudyirippu West, captured the area by the evening of February 19, killing 17 terrorists. Intercepted LTTE messages confirmed that 38 LTTE cadres were killed during the previous day’s confrontations.

Pudukudyirippu West, separated by a tank in the shape of an arch, had been protected with bunkers. The SF that entered from the north of the arch broke into the LTTE defence line and occupied Pudukudiruppu West and Ampalawanpokkanai area.

The Pudukudyirippu West region along the A-35 Paranthan Mulaitivu Road covers an area of about 3.5 kilometres.

The SF recovered the bodies of 42 LTTE cadres during the confrontations that lasted four days. They recovered five bodies on Friday alone.

“We recover ten bodies of the enemy a day. However, the kill rate is about 25 per day. The LTTE leaders, who each controlled an area of hundreds of square kilometers, are today, in charge of one square kilometer each. Bhanu, Theepan and Swarnam have been appointed to be in control of one kilometer areas. The LTTE is making every effort to halt the advancing forces of 58 Division which is advancing a minimum of one kilometre a day”, a front line commander said.

The SF received information that Theepan and Velavan are entrapped in the face of the ongoing military operations.

German Technology for LTTE aircraft bombs

The 58 Division this week came across a Tiger training camp for airmen. A ten feet long plane had been gutted by the fleeing LTTE. It is believed that, it was destroyed when the LTTE found it difficult to move it to a safer location. Troops also found bombs made for the LTTE’s Zlin aircraft and a German book on manufacturing those bombs was also found.

It is believed that foreign technology had been used to manufacture the frame of the aircraft found there. The SF had earlier recovered a frame of a helicopter fitted with wheels, from the Dharmapuram area. It was in the shape of a MI 24 helicopter gun ship.

Three underwater scooters and a large stock of diving kits were also recovered from Ampalawanpokkanai area which was liberated this week.

It was confirmed that the underwater scooters had been manufactured in Europe. Several rigifoam boxes found from the scene were in the process of being checked on Friday. There was evidence that the LTTE had shifted the boxes here from Chalai Sea Tiger base.

The LTTE acquired underwater scooters to stick magnetic bombs on ships and to attack harbours. It is still a mystery how the LTTE acquired machinery and equipment made in England or Norway. In the coming days troops are expecting to make more such discoveries as they comb other areas liberated by the 58 Division.

The 68-1 Brigade under Lt. Col. Lalantha Gamage of Task Force VIII captured an underground three storey compound of LTTE leader Prabhakaran at Pudukudyirippu. The luxury house, about 40 feet underground, was in a high security zone of the LTTE. The area was secured with a 14-strand barbed wire fence and bunkers. The site was covered with a 2ft-thick reinforced concrete slab and an ordinary house built on it.

“The house was complete with water purifiers and power generators and covered with camouflage nets. It was obviously Prabhakaran’s hideout in Pudukudiruppu” a senior military official said.

The access road to the area had been carpeted and dog kennels erected around the complex. A firing range for the LTTE leader’s personal use was among other facilities there.

The 14th Gajaba Regiment of the 68-1 Brigade under the command of Maj. Janaka Pallebedda, reached the underground housing complex after clearing a large number of booby traps and mines.

Earlier several soldiers of Task Force IV were victims of pressure mines and booby traps during a previous military operation to capture the area.
The SF, after capturing the housing complex, set about pulling down the LTTE’s earth barricade defence line in the south of Pudukudyirippu.

LTTE ‘Lt. Col’ Anbu and 13 other cadres were killed and 20 injured during the confrontations with the Task Force VIII on Thursday (19) alone.

Meanwhile, the 15th Infantry and the First Gemunu Watch of 68-2 Brigade under Lt. Col. Subhashana Welikala, are advancing across the open space in Nandikadal lagoon. Lt. Col. Welikala had a narrow escape from LTTE gunfire during the tedious operation in the open land area. However, Pvt Jayawardene, providing protection to the Brigade Commander, was shot in his forehead and killed.

Meanwhile, for the first time in the ‘Eelam War’, two 130mm artillery guns were recovered by the Fifth Vijeyabha Regiment under Lt. Col. Kalpa Sanjeewa of the 53 Division in the PUdukudyirippu West region.

This regiment had been deployed on the 2nd Defence Line in the area liberated by the Task Force IV.

Sgt Udayakumara and his men of the ‘Charlie’ Company under Capt Buddhika Atukorala had noticed that plants in the area had withered, and could be uprooted easily. This aroused their suspicion and as they dug up the area to a depth of about eight feet a greased Artillery barrel wrapped cloth and polythene was found.

While Sergeant Udayakumara, Lance Corporals Thusithapriya, Ajith Kumara, and Private Elvitigala, unearthed the barrel of one artillery gun , Staff Sergeant Aruna Shantha, Lance Corporals Herath and Wijeyakoon dug up the earth about 300 metres away and unearthed another one. The two barrels had been buried to a total depth of about 12 feet. Lt. Colonel Kalpa Sanjeewa and Major Sanjeewa Gunawarden and other officers spent the night there to unearth the two weapons.

Bravo Company under the command of Capt. Suminda Gunasinghe and including Staff Sergeant Jayatissa, Sergeants Silva, Nilmini, Saman Kumara, recovered the other parts of the two artillery guns.

The two 130mm artillery guns bore serial Nos. 6000031 and 260144 and model No.T-559. The Chinese made guns had been supplied to North Korea. The question is how did the LTTE receive weapons supplied to North Korea.

A suicide Sea Tiger cadre in custody disclosed that a consignment of arms were brought ashore by a trawler and unloaded at Wellamullvaikkal in Mullaitivu on December 23. It is believed that the two artillery guns were among tat consignment.

The main heavy weapon known to have been possessed by the LTTE previously was the 152mm artillery gun and such a weapon recovered from Vakarai had been acquired by the LTTE through Laos.

The 120mm mortar recovered from the enemy by the 58 Division recently had been manufactured in Pakistan, Iran and Singapore.

Meanwhile another LTTE attempt to launch attacks in the Jaffna Peninsular was foiled by the security forces this week. Two cadres of the Charles Anthony Brigade who came for the task were gunned down in Kappathivu area. On evidence gathered at the scene the security forces carried out a raid on a house in Jaffna recovered stock of dry ration, clothes and medicine for about 15 terrorists hidden in its kitchen.

The Army Commander who was on a visit to Jaffna this week met Jaffna Commander Major General Mendaka Samarsinghe and other senior military men and discussed the security situation in the peninsula.

ARMY CHANGES

Several changes in the military establishment will take place next week. Former commander East and Army Chief Of Staff Major General Nissanka Wijesinghe will retire on Feb.28 on completion of 55 years of age.

Major Gen L.M. Samarawera who commanded Military Engineers too will retire on completion of 55 years of age.

Major Gen. G.A.Chandrasiri who rendered a yeoman service for three years as Jaffna Security Forces Commander will be appointed as new Chief of Staff.

Military Secretary Major General Deepal Alwis will move over as Head of Field Engineers. He will be responsible for demining and construction works, including bridge building in the liberated areas.

The Director of Personnel Administration Brigadier Sumith Padumadasa has been appointed as Military Secretary.