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Military Matters


HOUSE-TO-HOUSE FIGHTING DELAYS FINAL VICTORY

Intense fighting erupted in Pudukudyiruppu this week, with troops forced to fight house to house, in order to clear the last Tiger stronghold.

53 Division under Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne, Task Force VIII under Col. G.V. Ravipriya, and 58 Division under Brig. Shavendra Silva, are engaged in the final battle to liberate Pudukudyiruppu.
Meanwhile, 55 Division under Brig. Prasanna de Silva, that proceeded from Chalai, broke into Pudumathalan North after intense fighting.

Only 21 sq. km. area is left to battle by Friday. The Security Forces (SF) had only 39 sq. km. area, including the 18 sq. km. neutral ‘Safe Zone’ for civilians, that needs to be brought under their sway.
The SF, by Tuesday (3), captured Pudukudyiruppu junction, in the only town still under the LTTE.

Troops advance slowly but surely

The three Army groups entered the town on Tuesday morning, amid heavy resistance.
53 Division and Task Force VIII were advancing on the town south of A-35 route. 58 Division is advancing from the North of A-35.

After three days of intense fighting, troops of 12 Gajaba Regiment (GR) and the 1 GR of 53 Division and Task Force VIII, linked up in the heart of town on Tuesday morning (3).
Bravo Company under Capt. Sampath Ranatunga and Charlie Company under Lt. Gamini Bandara of 12 GR under Maj. Saliya Amunugama, entered the town around 9 a.m.

Troops of 1 GR under Lt. Col. Sarath Aluvihara, entered the town centre from south of Pudukudyiruppu.
The advancing troops met with heavy resistance fromy the enemy. 1 GR of the 68-1 Brigade under Lt. Col.l Lalantha Gamage, and 4 GR under Maj. Rohitha Aluvihara, proceeded from the South of Pudukudyiruppu. The two regiments recovered bodies of seven terrorists and 10 weapons on Wednesday (4).

Meanwhile, troops of 68-2 Brigade under Lt. Col. Subhashana Welikala, liberated a semi-open area west of Nandikadal lagoon, through a strategic attack on Thursday (5),- and advanced about 3 km.

It was revealed that, the bodies of the LTTE cadres killed during confrontations in Pudukudyiruppu town, were found buried there itself. Hundreds of such bodies were recovered from shallow graves by the advancing SF.

The SF fighting in the urban areas of Pudukudyiruppu, had advanced about 4 km in 10 days and had only 4 km more to pass, to complete the capture of the difficult built-up area. If not for the civilian shield, the area could have been captured within hours through devastating artillery and multi-barrel fire. At present, only identified LTTE targets are engaged by the troops in these areas.

Troops backed by armour and RPG fire, are taking on Tigers holed up in reinforced concrete bunkers and fortified houses. The 5th Armoured Corp under Lt. Col. Nihal Samarakoon, has been engaging enemy targets day and night.

LTTE leaders’ families held hostage

With certain defeat facing them, intercepted LTTE messages reveal that the LTTE leaders are under intense mental strain, by the ongoing battle.

“I am prepared to do anything. Please send those of my family to a government controlled area,” was the plea of a junior LTTE leader to his superior, overheard by the SF.
It has been established that the LTTE leadership has taken hostage family members of Tiger leaders deployed to fight in the Wanni battlefront.

In another intercepted Tiger radio communication, LTTE military leader Lawrence was heard shouting at his juniors in abusive language, ordering them to go after civilians fleeing by sea and kill them.
However, 180 civilian who fled from Pudumathalan area by sea, arrived at Chundikulam, Kaddaikadu and Vetthilaikerni, and surrendered to the SF this week.

Human shields

Meanwhile 58 and 55 Divisions foiled the LTTE’s plan to send a group of cadres posing as civilians, to break into the military forward defence line in the Pudumatalan area, as they got a wind of the Tiger plot on Wednesday night(4). Judging from enemy movements, Military intelligence had warned that the LTTE was preparing for an attack.

In the early hours of the following day (5), the SF saw a large crowd moving towards the southern boundary of Chalai, where 58 and 55 Divisions meet. When it was established that a group of Tigers mingled with civilians, were coming for an attack, the SF fired several rounds of artillery in their path and not at the crowd, to avoid civilian casualties.

As expected, the civilians fled for their dear lives, while the terrorists captured eight bunkers in the area, where the 55 and 58 Divisions met. This included seven bunkers of the 11th Artillery Regiment under Lt. Col. Pradeep Perera of 58 division and another of the 8 Vijayaba Regiment under 55 Division.

Echo Company under Maj. Shah Hameed of the 2nd Commando Regiment attached to 58 Division under Lt. Col. Jayantha Balasuriya and Fox Company under Capt. Nadira Vidanapathirana joined in the confrontation.

The SF that re-captured the bunkers, recovered 44 bodies of LTTE cadres of the Radha Regiment, one of its foremost units, and a large cache of arms including 101 T-56 rifles, a T-81 weapon, seven light machine guns, three 60mm mortar launchers and a stock of food, during the search operations that followed.

Capt. Vidanapathirana was injured during the confrontations.
The 12th Gemunu Watch recovered nine bodies, and 55 Division three bodies, along with six weapons and three communication sets.
On information that Lawrance had been trapped in the military controlled area, during these clashes, the SF launched continuous search operations on Friday (6) to track him down.

Hit-and-run tactics

Meanwhile four specially trained groups of Tigers who had infiltrated Chalai area by boat, were killed by the SF. They had shot dead a soldier of 5 GR guarding the beach, with a pistol before escaping. A woman suicide bomber blasted herself, killing another soldier, during subsequent search operations to track them down.

Three commandos of a four man team that was trying to track them down, were killed during the search operation. However, the surviving Corporal gunned down the three remaining terrorists.

The infiltrator team, which included two women cadres, were in possession of RPG launchers and 16 RPG shells, claymore mines, pistols, T-56 rifles, a stock of food adequate for several months, including chocolates and personal items

The SF suspect that the plan of the terrorist group may have been to make their way through Chundikulam sanctuary and ambush military convoys on the Veththilayakarni-Mullaithivu, Vettilaikerni-Aiyakatchchi and Vishvamadu-Pranthan roads, and the entry points on the A-9 highway. The group carried maps indicating all roads up to Pooneryn, and water resources in Chundikulam.

Intelligence has revealed that the LTTE, which is not in a position to launch any major attacks, has mobilised small terror teams with special training, to carry out widespread hit-and-run attacks, as in the 1980s.
Special Forces and Commando teams, along with Infantry units, have been deployed to track down one such group.

Tiger NGO employee

SF recovered several documents to establish that a terrorist named Velupillai Jayaratnam of Sellapuram, Mullaithivu, who was killed in a recent confrontation with the Sinha Regiment in Mullaitivu, had been a team leader of an international NGO called “Swiss Foundation for Mine Action”. One of the documents was a leave chit signed by the Manager of the NGO’s office at Amman Kovil Road, Thothikkal, Vavuniya, Rosan Christy.

The NGO had issued him an identity card bearing No. 068 and the approval of leave included a request for permission for him to enter an LTTE held area.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Air Force confirmed that Kroner, an Intelligence Wing LTTE leader, who planned attacks in Colombo was killed in an air strike.

Arms haul

A haul of arms of the LTTE, including four heavy weapons, buried in the Sugandipuram jungles, was recovered this week by the 8th Light Infantry Regiment under Lt. Col. Ipsitha Dissanayaka of the 57-2 Brigade headed by Col. Senerath Bandara.
It included three 130mm artillery guns, a 122mm artillery gun, pieces of four dismantled weapons, 16 boat engines and many other equipment. It was for the first time that the SF recovered a large haul of heavy weapons belonging to the LTTE. Troops of Alpha Company under Capt. Pethum Chandrasiri of the Eighth Infantry Regiment (IR) recovered these weapons.

The 7 IR under Maj. Mihindu Perera of the same Brigade coming under 57 Division headed by Major Gen. Jagath Dias, recovered the two largest bombs ever recovered by the SF. The bombs, 9ft in length and 5ft in width, had been manufactured by the LTTE. It is yet to be established whether these bombs were meant for aerial bombing or Sea Tiger attacks.

Promotions

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. G.A Chandrasiri assumed duties on Tuesday as Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA). He rendered a unique service as the SF Commander in Jaffna, by defending the Jaffna peninsula during a crucial time from Dec.5, 2005, till recently, and virtually wiped out terrorism in the area.

For the first time in the history of the SLA, his services were extended beyond 55 years of age, in view of his efficiency, by Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, for a further period of one year, in order to retain his valuable services.

Meanwhile, another three senior Brigadiers were promoted as Major Generals on the recommendation of the Army Commander by order No. MSB/A/6/1(Prom) (142) dated March 2 and signed by Military Secretary Brig. G.S. Padumadasa.

Brig. Kamal Gunaratne, who commanded combat Divisions from the very inception of the Wanni operations, as the Commander of 53 Division, Brig. Nanadana Udawatta who was the Commander of 59 Division, during the drive from Weli Oya to Mullaitivu, and Brig. Mano Perera who commanded the Armoured Brigade, during the crucial Muhamalai battle in 2006, and is now the Western Province Operations Commander, were promoted as Major Generals. Brig. Perera also served earlier as the Commander of 52 Division and as Brigade Commander of 55-3 Brigade.

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