TIGERS USE CIVILIANS
AS CANNON FODDER
Army’s ability to recover, at times, hundreds of assault rifles, after
recent encounters with the enemy, has been attributed to the LTTE frog
marching into battle newly conscripted civilians, who, in fear, take to
their heeals, no sooner clashes erupt.
Frontline senior officers said this was one of the main reasons for
increased casualties among civilians. “When these wounded civilians are
brought for treatment, neither the ICRC nor the doctors are aware how
they came by their injuries. Similarly, even wounded Tiger cadres could
be seeking treatment in the guise of civilians,” they said.
Senior officers maintained that, they themselves were taking casualties
unnecessarily, due to Tigers firing their big guns from the ‘Safe Zone’
set aside for civilians, but were not retaliating on those enemy
positions because of the civilian presence.
Heavy fighting once again erupted in the built up urban areas of
Pudukudyirippu this week, amid torrential rains.
Soldiers wading through floods, continued their attacks on LTTE targets.
The LTTE resorted to exploding all types of booby traps, especially,
booby trapped buildings, whenever the forces entered them. Encounters
were often at close range, as the soldiers kept advancing into fast
diminishing Tiger held terrain.
With fighting becoming intense, the security forces (SF) resorted to new
strategies. Their strategy up to the Kilinochchi battle was to stay at a
place for a long time and to gun down as many enemy cadres as possible,
rather than capturing land. However, in urban areas, they have decided
to capture as much area as possible, to deny the enemy any places to
hide, while destroying its cadres and also, to finish off the remaining
The 35 sq km. area yet to be captured, includes 20 sq. km. land held by
the LTTE and the neutral ‘Safe Zone’. The advancing forces have only
about three to four kilometers more to reach the Eastern coast.
After intense fighting, the combat Divisions captured the Pudukudyiruppu
hospital this week.
53 Division under Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne, 58 Division under Brig.
Shavendra Silva and the Task Force VIII under Col. G.V. Ravipriya, are
waging the final battles under the supervision of Wanni Forces Commander
Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya.
The 12 Gajaba Regiment (GR) of 58 Division, under Maj. Saliya Amunugama
that advanced from the North of A-35 main road, reached the hospital’s
outskirt first, while 1 GR of Task Force VIII of Lt. Col. Sanath
Aluvihare, under the supervision of 53 Division Commander, entered from
the South. By Wednesday (11) evening, the Tigers left the hospital
premises and retreated amid intense fighting. The 68-1 Brigade of Lt.
Col. Lalantha Gamage carried out the operation to clear the hospital.
The defence line East of Pudukudyirippu, manned by 53 Division and Task
Force VIII, came under heavy LTTE attack in the early hours of last
The SF had killed more than 100 LTTE cadres in the ensuing heavy
fighting that lasted about 12 hours, and the forces later found 35 enemy
bodies lying in the area.
Meanwhile, the 68-2 Brigade of Task Force VIII, under Lt. Col.
Subhashana Welikala, clearing the main obstacle for the forces
proceeding to Pudukudyiruppu East, liberated an open country amid heavy
resistance and entered Pudukudyiruppu town limits.
An area called “Dara Point”, where both parties suffered heavy
casualties, was captured during the operation. It was with great
difficulty, that the earth barricade of the LTTE at the Dara Junction,
with an open tract of paddy fields, was overrun.
During the operation, the soldiers faced a series of problems due to the
flooding in the area. The 15 Light Infantry Regiment (CLI) under Maj.
Sujeewa Hettiarachchi, the 1 Gemunu Watch (GW) under Lt. Col. Ajantha
Wijesekara and 18 GW under Lt. Col. Rienzy Fernando, were in the thick
of the battle.
The 7 Sinha, the 11 CLI and the 20 GR of 58-1 Brigade under Lt. Col.
Deshapriya Gunawardene of 58 Division, that entered the LTTE strongholds
from the North of Pudukudyiruppu, launched a major onslaught. The
5Armoured Corp under Lt. Col. Nihal Samarakoon assisted them in the
The LTTE sent a van loaded with explosives, to ram into the defence line
manned by 20 GR under Maj. Kumar Peiris, but it was destroyed by LCpl
Pushpakumara, who fired an RPG at the vehicle, when it was about 100
metres from the military bunkers.
The van loaded with high explosives caused a massive explosion. The
incident at 4.45 a.m. on March 7, was heard for miles. It was followed
by a wave of three LTTE attacks, which were repulsed. The 20 GR
destroyed another suicide vehicle advancing towards their position.
Meanwhile, Commanding Officer (CO) of 11 CLI, Lt. Col. Kithsiri
Ekanayake, who went to inspect the Defence Line amid torrential rains,
had a close shave. When the CO was returning, the Maradapilluara tank
overflowed and he attempted to pass the area by tractor. However, the
tractor was swept away by the floods with the driver, but he too,
managed to jump and swim to safety unhurt. When the CO who stayed on the
defence line till 6 p.m. was preparing to leave on the request of the
soldiers, an artillery shell fell there. An LTTE scout hiding in the
area might have directed the fire.
His attempt to leave the area by another tractor failed, when that too
was swept away by the raging floods. Finally, the soldiers had evacuated
him at about 10.30 p.m, by means of ropes put across Maradapilluara
In another incident, 55 Division of Brig. Prasanna de Silva, proceeding
from Chalai to Puthumathalan, under the supervision of Commander SF
Jaffna, Maj. Gen. Mendaka Samarsinghe, faced a series of obstacles due
to the torrential rains. The temporary bridges erected by the SF had
been destroyed by floods. However, the soldiers of the Division resumed
their advance on March 12.
Tiger Heads ‘roll’
Military Intelligence (MI) revealed that Sea Tiger leader ‘Lt. Col.’
Salem alias ‘Kalarathan’, injured in an attack by 55 Division on March
7, had succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday. He was the fifth in
command of the Sea Tigers.
In addition, head of the finance Section of the LTTE, Sabharatnam
Selvathurai alias ‘Thamilendri’ had been killed in an artillery strike
The LTTE also announced the deaths of ‘Lt. Col.’ Maran, ‘Maj.’
Thamilmaran, ‘Maj.’ Muller Chemimal, ‘Capt.’ Eelachchilian and ‘Capt.’
Kalai Kadirawan. Kalai Eeniyawan of the Black Tigers was killed in
action during the Pudukudyiruppu battles last week.
Information was received that Swarnam was killed and Lawrence injured
during the battle. MI reported that the funeral of a prominent LTTE
leader took place in the dead of night this week, with the participation
of several other leaders, including Karikalan. However, the dead
leader’s identity is yet to be revealed.
The LTTE leadership too, changed their strategies, in view of the
intensifying military operations. Intelligence revealed that, they had
deployed groups of suicide cadres targeting military convoys, artillery
and multi-barrel rocket launcher positions, and vehicles transporting
senior military officials.
It was revealed that the suicide groups had infiltrated the cleared
areas under Thomas, a subordinate of Ratnam Master, the leader of the
Tiger Intelligence Wing.
One such group blasted themselves, after breaking into an artillery
position at Sugandipuram this week, causing damage to three 122mm
Meanwhile, a group of about 20 terrorists had infiltrated through
Wilpattu, to launch attacks in the South, according to MI.
Army Chief in control
The SF, under the personal supervision of Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath
Fonseka, foiled the LTTE’s plan to reoccupy Mullaithivu few weeks back,
and Pudukudyirippu areas last week.
A group of about 300 Tigers led by Lawrence and Swarnam, infiltrated
Pudukudyiruppu area, to capture the A-35 (Paranthan- Mullaithivu Road),
to halt the supplies to 58 Division and then, to launch an attack under
Bhanu and Theepa from Puthumathalan to entrap the Division. However, the
SF, for the first time in the history of the Eelam War, killed about 240
LTTE cadres, including senior members of the organisation and piled up
their bodies and weapons. (A separate report of the battle appears
Even in the face of desperate circumstances, the LTTE is still planning
to take the Army Chief’s life, despite strict security measures adopted
by him, according to MI.
The multi-barrel rocket launchers of the Army are yet another reason for
the LTTE’s debacle. The LTTE cadres who surrendered to the SF, revealed
that, their leaders shiver in fright, when MBRLs fire barrages. However,
the groups sent by the LTTE, failed to trace the locations of these
mobile weapons, which are often moved from location to location.
The 62-1 Brigade under Lt.Col. Athula Ariyaratne, recovered 13 empty SAM
Missiles, 16 overalls used for chemical tests and several other items,
including 76,000 electronic detonators from Pudukudyirippu West on March
The 8 SR under Lt. Col. Priyantha Jayawardene of this Brigade, found
them buried four feet deep in four containers
The articles were hidden in plastic tubes. Among them were 22 gas masks,
175 rubber mats, used by tourists to lie on the beach, musical
instruments, office appliances, 32 machine gun holders, and 40 rounds of
The 13 empty SAM Missiles contained details of Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF)
aircraft destroyed by the LTTE, with the dates of attacks, location and
even the name of the firer of the weapon.
The empty SAM Missiles were airlifted to the SLAF Headquarters for
further investigation. Inquiries revealed that the LTTE obtained the
missiles from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. However, the SLAF is further
studying the serial numbers and other details found on the empty
missiles, to establish the country of origin.
Meanwhile, 66-2 Brigade under Col. Kirthi Gunasoma recovered a stock of
800 kgm. of TNT explosives in two barrels, a stock of motors and other
equipment at Udaparankattukulam East.
The 18 GR of 58 Division, recovered a parachute, aircraft tyres,
spareparts of aircraft engines, and halogen lamps buried in a jungle of
The award of Presidential Colours to SLAF squadrons, for the first time
in its history, took place on March 7, at China Bay Air Force Base with
President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Chief Guest.
Earlier, Presidential Colours were awarded in 1976, to Katunayaka Air
Force Base, to mark the Silver Jubilee of the SLAF, and in 2001, to
Anuradhapura Pilot Training School.
The 10th Squadron with Kfir combat aircraft, the 9th Squadron with MI 24
Combat Aircraft, the 4th Squadron flying VIPs, the SLAF Infantry
Regiment, and the Second Squadron with transport aircraft, received
Presidential Colours. This was also the highest Presidential Award
available to a Forces regiment.
On the same day, the 45th Passing Out of the SLN was also held with
President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Chief Guest. It was most significant to
the first family in particular, as the President’s son, Yoshitha
Rajapaksa, was among the Sub Lieutenants who passed out. He was
presented the ceremonial sword by his father as Commander in Chief of
the SF. He also received the award for Best Marksman, Best Athlete, and
for topping his batch
Meanwhile, a group of young women, including one suspected to be LTTE
leader Prabhakaran’s daughter, Dvaraka, were taken into custody by the
SLN, near Point Pedro on February 24, while attempting to flee to India
“When we intercepted the boat, judging from the clothes and jewellery
worn by the women onboard, we realised they were of an affluent
background. We brought them to Jaffna for further inquiries,” a senior
officer of the SLN said.
Though the young woman resembled Prabhakaran’s wife Madiwadini further
inquiries revealed that she was someone else
Meanwhile, information was received that the LTTE shot 265 civilians
fleeing the LTTE controlled area to Chundikulam by sea, killing several
of them and destroying their boat.
Principal of Therumurukandi Vidyalaya, Ashirvadan Susainathar, was one
of the civilians who escaped the LTTE attack. He said that a group of
about 500 civilians fleeing the LTTE controlled area, were on the beach,
when the LTTE shot them. He said the LTTE gave chase and shot at the
boats killing civilians on board. He said that, a child, who was with
him, received gunshot injuries.
The civilians revealed that the LTTE forcibly detained many families and
gunned down anyone attempting to flee.
LTTE grand assault
Tissa Ravindra Perera
LTTE Leaders Lawrence and Swarnam were tasked with
overseeing a major Tiger operation last week. The plan
was to utilise around 300 LTTE cadres to sneak past the
Forward Defence Lines (FDL), mount a rear attack and
recapture Puthukuduyiruppu and Chalai. Specially trained
cadres from the Black Tigers, the Radha Regiment and
Charles Anthony Regiment were among those dispatched for
this attack. After carefully considering the positioning
of the troops, they chose to infiltrate at the island
where the 11 Artillery Regiment of 58 Division was
sited, between south of Chalai and north Puthukudyirippu.
The 11 Artillery Regiment was jointly protecting the
island with the 8 Vijayaba Regiment (VR) of 55 Division
under Brig. Prasanna de Silva. At dawn on February 5,
two boats carrying civilians were seen off Chalai. As
the forces paid attention to these boats, Tiger cadres
began moving along the strip of land attached to Chalai.
However, by this time, Military Intelligence had
forewarned troops of such an attack.
The cadres attacked from the lagoon side, and after
capturing bunkers, moved steadily onward. No sooner he
heard of the attack at 4:00 a.m., Brig. Shavendra Silva,
Commander of 58 Division, moved to the command station
to personally oversee the counter-attack. The moment the
bunkers were captured, Capt. Suranga Jayaweera stormed
into the area with his Alpha Company of 20 Gajaba
Regiment, stationed nearby. As they moved to clear the
area south of Chalai, Capt. Jayaweera became a victim of
an LTTE ambush.
At daybreak, two Commando teams under Lt. Col. Jayantha
Balasuriya, were dispatched by 58 Division Commander to
assist the troops under siege. Two Companies under Maj.
Shah Hamid and Lt. Sadaruwan joined in the attack.
Attacking with an 8-group formation, they managed to
recapture the bunkers taken over by the LTTE. The 8 VR
under 55 Division, managed to recapture three bunkers of
the 11 Artillery Regiment earlier overrun by the Tigers.
In this battle, Capt. Nadeera Vidanapathirana was
wounded and Lt. Col. Jayantha Balasuriya took over
The officers had first perceived around 200 LTTE cadres
dressed as soldiers on the island. They were effectively
disguised as Army personnel, with short crops, some
bearing the stripes of LCpl., Cpl. and Sgt. Some cadres
even had Army headgear to complete their ensemble. At
first, the Army was unsure of who they were, but after
ascertaining they were the LTTE and not troops of 55
Division, the fight-back proceeded. Afterwards, the
entire island was combed in a search operation and by
midday on Thursday, the Army had consolidated power
within the island. In this attack, some of the most
prominent LTTE regiments were repulsed by Commando fire.
Tigers seek jungle refuge
Following the attack, 28 bodies (LTTE), 55 T-56 weapons,
4 LMGs, 1 MPMG and 3 60mm Mortar launchers were found.
An LTTE group retreating towards Ampalawanpokkanai, came
under attack from the Commandos. Most of the cadres had
by this time escaped to the wooded area of
Ampalawanpokkanai West, about 12 km in extent. The Army
was quick to repair breaches in their defence lines and
as directed by Brig Shavendra Silva, began sweeping
operations from Sugandipuram to cover the entire area.
In the process of search and destroy, small groups of
Tiger cadres were wiped out. By this time, LTTE leaders
Lawrence and Swarnam too, had entered the jungle area,
accompanied by around 200 cadres. The Division Commander
had been told to trap them and wipe them out in the
jungle, if possible, by Army Chief Sarath Fonseka.
But the ground troops were not aware of the exact number
“Sir, about 50 Tigers ran across into the jungle, in
front of me, under covering fire,” a soldier with
gunshot injuries on Saturday (7) night told his
superiors when brought for treatment. This news shocked
the commanders into action. Immediately, an Air Force
UAV and a Beach Craft were airborne over the area, at
the request of 58 Division Commander. Aerial photos
confirmed that a group of around 200 cadres were in the
Immediately, artillery fire began to pound the area west
of Ampalawanpokkanai, forcing the LTTE infiltrators to
run for cover. Urgent radio messages to their leaders
had requested for backup, as their medical personnel had
been killed in the artillery barrage of at least 300
rounds. An LTTE commander instructed them to move out of
the area from three points, where they would refrain
from firing their own artillery. And the trapped Tiger
teams took refuge in their former defence line along the
Chalai lagoon shore.
Reinforcing the defences
By this time, Second Commando Regiment’s Capt. Sanjeewa
Navaratne with his Alpha Company, and Maj. Ravi
Ratnayake with his Bravo Company, had been positioned in
the area. Under Maj. Jaliya Dehideniya, Delta Company
moved towards Sugandipuram, to ensure security for the
supply route of the Army. The 11 Artillery Regiment and
19 WR were also deployed to assist in the operation.
Even though 122mm and 130 mm artillery guns were
deployed in the civilian ‘No-Fire Zone’ and used against
the Army, the forces refrained from mounting a
counterattack, even though they had the weapons to do
so. The cadres were returning fire from the bund and
managed to breach the defences of the 11 Artillery
Regiment and escape beyond the lagoon. As this was an
open area, where heavy fire was being targetted at the
Army with machine guns, the troops found it difficult to
move forward. At this point, the 11 Artillery Regiment
had suffered heavy casualties with 14 dead and 32
injured. Three officers were among them.
In the meantime, Maj. Shah Hamid got instructions to
attack from the west of the bund and with artillery fire
raining down, even he was wounded. Cpls Wijewardene,
Athula Kumara and Dharmathileke laid down their lives,
fighting to the bitter end. Another 45 soldiers were
also injured by this time.
Special Forces to the rescue
Sunday morning saw fierce fighting, as the cadres fought
along with reinforcements in place to assist them. It
was at this point that Army Chief Sarath Fonseka
personally took over the battle and brought Operations
Director Brig. Udaya Perera and DMI Brig. Amal
Karunasena to the Operations Room with him. He also
dispatched Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias to assist Brig.
Lawrence and Swarnam were, by this time, deploying
maximum firepower to extricate themselves. The Army
Chief responded by sending the Special Forces Brigade
directly under his command. Four Special Forces
squadrons were by this time deployed at the front. The
LTTE showed no signs of backing down, using the bund
defenses of the area. The main focus of the troops that
landed around six in the evening, was to regain the 1.5
km that was taken over by the LTTE, and repulsing the
The Special Forces teams infiltrated the jungle space,
picking off the cadres. As the cadres started falling,
the morale of the troops lifted as well, and in rain
infested darkness, the fight continued. Right from the
start, face to face confrontation killed 17 cadres and,
after eight strenuous hours, the Special Forces were
able to achieve their mission.
During the fight, 85 trained cadres were killed and 147
T-56, 5 MPMG and 6 RPG weapons were recovered. “This is
completely a night attack and it is the first time we
have cleared a bund in these circumstances,” said an
Officer from the front. Over 240 terrorists were killed
during the attack. 146 bodies were found, along with 268
T-56 weapons, 18 RPG, 6 mortars and a plethora of other
weapons. The two LTTE leaders had also sustained
injuries during the attack, and the Army suspects that
one may have been killed, but it was difficult to
ascertain which, as neither had exchanged radio
messages. With the assistance of everyone, the fifth
attempt by the LTTE, to recapture Mullativu town and the
Chalai area, was successfully repulsed.