Though the total area remaining to be liberated is
about 26 sq.km., the scene of actual combat is restricted to about
10 sq.km., which is expected to be the final showdown that commenced
this week, and the most formidable, with both sides concentrated and
ranged against each other in this narrow front. The balance area
makes up the civilian ‘Safe Zone’
By Tissa Ravinda Perera
Captive civilians turn on the Tigers
In another development this week, clashes between the LTTE and the
civilians entrapped within the LTTE controlled area, escalated.
In one incident, terrorists attempting to abduct some children, were
reportedly hacked to death by the parents. Civilians who had lost
patience, hurled petrol bombs at the LTTE political office and the LTTE
police station in Puttumathalan on March 17.
A clash between the LTTE police that attempted to abduct a young woman,
and the civilians, ended up in four vehicles and two motorcycles of the
LTTE being set on fire, and the OIC of the LTTE police being assaulted.
A civilian who fled from the LTTE controlled area, revealed that a group
of armed LTTE cadres rushed to the scene and brought the situation under
control, after shooting dead four civilians in public.
He revealed that clashes between hardcore terrorists in the martyred
families and ordinary civilians, were increasing.
A woman who opposed the LTTE, was shot in the mouth and killed. In other
instances, the LTTE gave chase and shot at boatloads of fleeing
civilians in the deep sea and removed the boat engines.
Meanwhile, a group of civilians carrying the body of an infant killed,
when their boat came under LTTE gunfire, staged a protest on March 17,
and demanded that, the ICRC officials, who arrived there by sea to
distribute food to the civilians in the ‘No Fire’ zone, take them to
The civilians who fled from the ‘No Fire’ zone said that the ICRC
representative promised to take up the issue with the Government and
left. However, this particular ICRC official had not taken any step to
inform authorities of this request.
Human shield terrorised
The fleeing civilians accused the LTTE of plundering food stocks
distributed by the ICRC, and requested the Defence establishment to
suspend the shipments. They said that the majority of the civilians, who
opposed the LTTE, were given only salt kanji and the children green leaf
Intelligence was received that the LTTE, which is using civilians as a
protective shield, had forcibly recruited more than 1,000 cadres. The
training of the latest batch of conscripts reached its fifth day on
With the intention of dragging the war till April, the LTTE has launched
a massive propaganda campaign calling on civilians to join the final
battle. They have been reduced to using the equipment of the Voice of
Tiger clandestine broadcasting service, to launch this propaganda blitz
from a van. Their strategy appears to be to continue the war till April,
hoping for an Indian intervention, in view of India’s general election
due next month.
It was revealed that the LTTE is erecting an earth barricade and bunkers
around the ‘No Fire’ zone, to prevent civilians from fleeing the area,
because, without civilians all would be lost for them.
On March 18, the LTTE imposed a curfew from 4.00 pm to 6 am the
following day to launch a search operation in the ‘No Fire’ zone to
track down their deserters and those who oppose the LTTE.
Meanwhile, it was confirmed that, the Vattuwal area in the ‘No Fire’
zone has been reserved for families of prominent LTTE leaders’ and made
a ‘forbidden’ zone for other civilians.
In another development, the LTTE’s plan to infiltrate the liberated
areas with its cadres in military uniforms, to launch attacks, came to
light. A suicide cadre in army uniform, attempting to infiltrate the
security forces lines, was detected by a soldier of the Special Forces
and shot dead on the way. He was sporting the insignia and knapsack of a
Special Forces soldier, who went missing during a military operation in
Weli Oya area, four years ago.
In a similar manner, forces on Wednesday detected and arrested the
driver of LTTE Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman. The LTTE cadre, who
mingled with the civilians surrendering to the forces, was arrested by
the 58 Division. When a LTTE stronghold in the south of Iranapalai,
frequented by Pottu Amman, came under attack, he had decamped.
He disclosed that Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman still remained in an
underground bunker in the area. He said that Puttu Amman’s wife, Vatsala,
an LTTE cadre from Batticaloa, and their six children had gone missing
for about a month. Pottu Amman, who used four vehicles, including a
white Land Cruiser, had three drivers. However, Pottu Amman who roamed
about on a motorcycle, for fear of the Army’s Deep Penetration Unit’s
attacks, uses a vehicle brought by Prabhakaran’s personal security, when
he needs to meet the leader.
Pottu Amman, who lives under tight security, had been in overall command
of LTTE operations in Pudukudyirippu, Dharmapuram, and Kilinochchi
areas, his driver has confessed.
Army Chief upfront
Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka on Thursday visited the Wanni Brigade
Headquarters and met senior military field commanders, including
Security Forces Commander, Wanni, Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya.
He now intends to increase the troop strength to 70,000 soldiers from
the current 50,000, to finish off the war expeditiously. Lt. Gen.
Fonseka said that infantry troops who fought valiantly to overcome all
enemy obstacles amid LTTE artillery and mortar fire, are responsible for
the present military achievements, and that, the war might have come to
an end much earlier, if the LTTE’s artillery guns and mortar launchers
had been interdicted before they reached the enemy.
Meanwhile, 55 Division, under Brig. Prasanna de Silva, that proceeded
from the south of Putumathalan, breached two forward defence lines (FDL)
in Pattikarai area also this week.
The 1st Light Infantry regiment (CLI) under Lt. Col. Chandana Ranweera
of 55-3 Brigade commanded by Col. Mahinda Weerasuriya, achieved this
By March 16, after two days of intense fighting, the soldiers who pulled
down the enemy FDL, which was 80ft in length and 5ft in height, advanced
to a distance of about 350 metres. Intercepted LTTE communications
confirmed that 15 LTTE cadres, including its leader in charge of mortar
attacks, ‘Lt.Col.’ Ramesh, were killed and 27 others injured in the
A Sea Tiger leader, ‘Lt. Col.’ Sathya, and 15 other cadres were killed
and 24 injured in an attack launched by 55 Division on the previous day
(March 15.) In this operation, 1 CLI, with the help of the Air Force,
destroyed six bunkers in the LTTE FDL.
Security forces, who breached the LTTE defence line on March 16, faced
yet another challenge. General Officer Commanding (GOC) 55 Division and
his deputy Brig. Nissanka Ranawana, Col. Mahinda Weerasuriya and other
field commanders planned the operation. Their target was a stronger
defence line about 500 metres interior of the first defence line.
1CLI was to break into the Defence Line, while 7 Vijeyaba Regiment under
Lt. Col. Deepal Pusella, provided protection from the direction of the
lagoon and 4 Gemunu Watch (GW) from the direction of the beach. Alfa and
Delta Companies of 1CLI were entrusted with the task of overruning the
Bravo and Chalie Companies were ordered to carry out trenching from the
direction of the lagoon and the beach, and open a path.
By Thursday morning, the First Infantry troops as pre-planned overran
the LTTE’s second defence line in a tactical maneuver.
Intense fighting that erupted at about 10.30 a.m., continued till 6
p.m., with the security forces finally capturing the entire area. The
tanks of the Mechanised Infantry under Maj. Udaya Herath provided
It was a hard battle in view of the advantage the LTTE held here, in
being able to attack the forces from three directions: the sea, the
lagoon and land.
Four LTTE cadres, including woman Sea Tiger leader ‘Lt. Col.’ Sindu,
were bagged by the Army snipers in this operation, bringing the total
number of Tiger cadres killed by Army snipers during the previous 48
hours to 12.
Military Intelligence believes that LTTE’s ‘Lt. Col.’ Arunan Master,
identified by his call sign Charlie Alpha, who commanded enemy cadres in
the area, was also either killed or injured in the attack.
The 58 Division under Brig. Shavendra Silva, liberated a six kilometre
stretch of road from Putumatalan in the ‘No Fire’ zone, to
Pudukudyiruppu junction, by Thursday. The last stretch of 300 metres on
this road was liberated by the 8 Gajaba Regiment (GR). They recovered
the bodies of 11 LTTE cadres, after the battle for the last stretch.
With this, the soldiers were able to speed up the capture of the
entirety of Pudukudyirippu. It also provided the opportunity to open a
supply route and to deploy battle tanks.
The road was liberated by the 9 GW, 10 GR, and 8 GR.
The 11 CLI under Lt. Col. Kithsiri Ekanayaka, advanced from Putumatalan
and captured the main road to Pudukudyirippu, after a 12-hour battle on
Security forces recovered eight ‘Baba’ mortar launchers and a 12ft long
‘Pandithar’ 1550 rocket shell, during the search operation that followed
Fire from ‘No Fire’
Meanwhile, the LTTE launched 22 artillery rounds on the security forces,
with the 152mm and 122mm artillery guns installed in the ‘No Fire’ zone.
Nine soldiers were killed and 35 injured in the artillery attack.
Although the security forces have identified the locations of the
artillery guns, they are not permitted to attack them due to the
international outcry. However, the LTTE, favoured by foreign countries
and international organisations, is at liberty to fire from the ‘No
Fire’ zone. The security forces are not allowed to retaliate despite
Meanwhile, 20 GR under Lt Col Kumar Peiris, captured Iranapalai
junction, where LTTE intelligence leader Pottu Amman’s underground
housing complex and several LTTE camps were located.
20 GR entered the Roman Catholic Tamil Mixed School amid intense
fighting on March 17. The LTTE plane, shot down by the F-7 combat
aircraft of the Air Force on September 9, 2008, crashed into this school
Within an hour of the capture of Iranapalai junction, the security
forces came under attack by a group of about 100 LTTE cadres, but it was
repulsed. A wave of about six attacks continued till Wednesday (18), but
to no avail. Intercepted LTTE messages revealed that 26 cadres were
killed and 41 others injured in these counterattacks to dislodge the
forces. The GR was able to advance about 900 metres in two days.
Tiger ‘dens’ captured
“Every house in Iranapalai is evidently an abode of a Black Tiger
family. Photos of Prabhakaran and the Sea Tigers killed in action have
been hung on the walls of every house. There are indications that the
LTTE’s underground warehouses are here,” a senior military officer said.
The Ponnambalam hospital in Pudukudyirippu was captured by the 9 GW
under Lt. Col Lal Chandrasiri of 58 division. The LTTE vehicles that
came to recapture the hospital, came under attack by the Fifth Armoured
Corp under Lt. Col. Nihal Samarakoon.
Separate rooms, complete with all facilities, had been reserved for the
LTTE leaders, including Balraj. It was a hospital for the LTTE leaders.
Head of the LTTE Economic Development Division, Karikalan’s wife called
Kama Aunty, was the director of the fully equipped hospital with
In a major find, 7 Sinha Regiment of 58 Division, recovered another
submarine from a main Sea Tiger camp in the Iranapalai area. A senior
military officer in the operational area said the submarine in the shape
of a whale, was about 20ft long and that it had been used.
The 581 Brigade under Col. Deshapriya Gunawardene and 582 Brigade under
Col. Sanjaya Wanigasinghe, were involved in the operations, while the
583 Brigade under Lt. Col. Ramesh Fernando was manning the defence
The search operation to track down the LTTE infiltrators in government
controlled areas, were continuing after recent behind-the-lines attacks
Task Force 8 under Col. G.V. Ravipriya and 53 Division under Maj. Gen
Kamal Gunaratne were engaged in operations from the direction of
Pudukudyirippu south along the A-35 Pranthan-Mullaithivu main road
The 682 Brigade under Lt. Col. Subhashana Welikala broke down a 900
metre earth barrier on Wednesday and advanced about 700 metres into LTTE
territory. Bravo Company under Capt. Krishantha of 18 GW and Delta
Company under Lt. Kumara broke down the earth barricade. The operation
that commenced at 3 a.m. lasted till 8 a.m.
LTTE leaders Theepan and Pulashti launched continual counter-attacks to
deter the advancing forces, but to no avail. It was revealed that the
Pulasthi group later went missing.
The LTTE attempted to retain the strategically important area by using
maximum gunfire to prevent 682 Brigade that was advancing along the A-35
highway, from capturing their last supply route.
During the battle, the security forces came under artillery fire from
the ‘No Fire’ zone. Sea Tiger leader Soosai was heard over intercepted
LTTE communications, ordering artillery fire to halt 682 Brigade’s
Appointments / Promotions
Addition of new Divisions to the Army and change of Command took place
last week. Col. Nugera, who earned a reputation in the battlefield
during the Eelam War, was appointed as the new Commander of the Commando
Regiment. Defence Coordinator- Army Headquarters, Brig. Asoka Amunugama
was appointed Head of the Minneriya Infantry Training School. Brig.
Maitree Dias was appointed Defence Coordinator and Col. Shantha
Dissanayake was appointed Security Advisor- Sri Lankan Embassy in China.
Col. Dhammika Jayasundare was appointed to the new 594 Brigade, Lt.
Col.Jaliya Senaratne to the 595 Brigade, Lt. Col. Kirthi Gunasoma to the
633 Brigade, Lt. Col. P.K.A. Pilapitiya to the 573 Brigade and Col. D.K.
Jayatillake to the 574 Brigade.
Meanwhile, 52 Lieutenant Colonels were promoted Colonels by Military
Secretary Brig. G.S. Padumadasa on March 17.