LAST DITCH STAND
Among the surrendees was a ‘Lt Col.’ of the Tiger intelligence
wing, who had worked under its Deputy Leader Kapil Amman. He surrendered
with his family. In addition, a woman ‘Major’, who had been the head of
a Tiger training school, OIC of its Wattakachchi police station
Gunaratnam Kuneshwaran and 504 other senior Tiger cadres escaped with
civilians during the past 10 days and surrendered to 58 Division. Among
these, 63 Tiger cadres surrendered on March 16, 50 on March 24, and were
correctly picked out from among the escaping civilians, by intelligence,
and handed over to the Police for rehabilitation
By Tissa Ravindra Perera
The LTTE, realising its fate, put up some of its fiercest resistance
this week, not seen in the earlier battle for Kilinochchi, but the brave
security forces (SF) steadily continued to grind forward
Dwindling Tiger habitat
By Friday (27), other than the ‘No Fire’ (NF) zone on the Mullaitivu
coast, there was left only another four sq. km. area under the LTTE in
Pudukudyirippu East. The task of liberating this last stretch has been
undertaken by 58 Division under Brig. Shavendra Silva, 53 Division under
Maj. Gen. Kamal Guneratne and Task Force VIII under Col. G.V. Ravipriya.
In Iranapalai East, 58-1 Brigade under Lt. Col. Deshapriya Gunawardene
and 58-2 Brigade under Lt. Col. Sanjaya Wanigasingha, were moving from
North to South and West to East, respectively.
58 Division is now within 400 metres of the Pudumattalan NF zone, in a
three km. wide frontage.
Meanwhile, 53 Division’s 68-1 Brigade under Lt. Col. Lalantha Gamage and
Task Force VIII’s 68-1 Brigade under Lt. Col Subashana Welikala, are
advancing on Pudukudyirippu East.
55 Division under Brig. Prasanna de Silva, is advancing from North
Pudumattalan to South Pudumattalan, aiming to capture a two km. stretch
remaining on this front. In this task 55-3 Brigade under Col. Mahinda
Weerasuriya, has been supplemented by the newly formed 55-4 Brigade
under Col. D.K. Jayatilleke.
Troops from five Brigades, belonging to the four divisions, are now
engaged in completing the capture of the entire Pudukudyirippu region.
Once they complete this task, they would then be left with only the
liberation of the trapped civilians in the 12 sq. km NF zone, from the
clutches of terrorists.
Early this week, SF were able to get a clear view of a top Tiger leader
being driven in a jeep, with armed guards escorting it on two
motorcycles, but there was nothing the soldiers could do, since they
were under orders not to fire into the NF zone.
‘Cats’ among the ‘pigeons’
However, a large number of civilians, as well as some Tiger leaders,
were able to escape from the NF zone this week, and surrendered to the
Among the surrendees was a ‘Lt Col.’ of the Tiger intelligence wing, who
had worked under its Deputy Leader Kapil Amman. He surrendered with his
family. In addition, a woman ‘Major’, who had been the head of a Tiger
training school, OIC of its Wattakachchi police station Gunaratnam
Kuneshwaran and 504 other senior Tiger cadres escaped with civilians
during the past 10 days and surrendered to 58 Division. Among these, 63
Tiger cadres surrendered on March 16, 50 on March 24, and were correctly
picked out from among the escaping civilians, by intelligence, and
handed over to the Police for rehabilitation.
Many of those who surrendered belonged to top LTTE units such as Charles
Anthony, Radha, Imran, Pandiyan, Sodiya, Malathi, Kutti, Sri Mortar and
The failure of the Vavuniya Police to reveal proper details of these
surrendees and the surrendees themselves pleadings about their personal
problems, at the time of being produced in Court, has resulted in many
of the detainees being sent to IDP camps. SF commanders have warned such
careless handling of hardcore Tiger surrendees could lead to a grave
situation, with the possibility of them reorganising terrorist
activities from within these camps.
LTTE black market in NF zone
Meanwhile, in the last few days, among the civilians fleeing from LTTE
clutches, has been the Asst. Govt. Agent Pooneryn, with his family, some
Indian fishermen who had been in Tiger captivity and a Tamil family born
Fleeing civilians continue to report that all the food sent via the Red
Cross, to civilians in the Pudumattalan NF zone, is taken charge by the
Due to this, the Tigers distribute food according to work done for the
outfit, with people willing to hand over their children to the Tigers
and those digging trenches, getting preference.
Under the circumstances, the LTTE is also operating a brisk black market
in the NF zone controlled by them. The civilians are sold a kilo of rice
at Rs 200, dhal at Rs 150, Rs 350 for litre of kerosene, coconut oil at
Rs 500, betel leaf at Rs 100, soap at Rs 50, a card of Panadol at Rs
160, set of torch batteries at Rs 850 and a kilo of brinjals at Rs 200.
Tiger ‘IGP’ taken away handcuffed
Fleeing civilians, who crossed over on March 26, have revealed that the
Tiger political leader and Police Chief S. Nadesan had been caught
trying to flee with his family, three days earlier, and led away in hand
Recently, Nadesan, unable to face the Forces onslaught, was quoted as
saying that, they were wiling to enter into unconditional talks with the
Digging in, digging deep
In recent weeks, Nadesan, along with Pottu Amman, addressed public
meetings and gave assurances that they would regain areas lost in
battle, and appealed for public help to capture those who deserted Tiger
ranks. In a move to halt the exodus of civilians, the Sea Tigers have
tightened its patrolling of the coastline of the NF zone
People coming in from the NF zone have also reported seeing a Tiger
light aircraft in the Pudumattalan area.
Civilians also informed that the Walayarmadam school has been converted
into a fully functional hospital for treating wounded cadres, and its
with facilities include an operating theatre.
A high security zone too, has been set up by the Tigers at Wattuvakal in
the Vellamullivaikkal area, in the NF zone, for families of the Tigers.
Even senior Tigers have been sighted in this zone. The area has been
declared out of bounds for other civilians. Tigers have even placed
their heavy guns in this zone.
Ditch by ditch
Task Force VIII captured about a 1.5 km area on the Paranthan- Mulaitivu
road from West to East on March 21. With this, heavy fighting erupted,
as they continued to advance from there.
The 6-81 Brigade, which began the operation early morning last Saturday,
completed the task around 11.00 am. Thereby, taking away another area
from the enemy.
With this, the Tigers lost the main supply road to Pudukdyirippu from
the NF zone.
The seven and five Gemunu Watch took part in this operation to complete
the capture of this route.
The 68-2 Brigade this week advanced about 800 metres parallel to
55 Division, by this time, was on a narrow stretch of land moving from
north to south in the Pudumattlan region. They are two kilometres from
the NF zone.
This Division which started out from Muhumalai has advanced 65 km so
far. The 55-3 Brigade under Col. Mahinda Weerasuriya and 55-2 under Col.
Kapila Udalupola, are the main infantry Brigades under 55 Division.
In the line of fire
Dismantling the enemy’s next earth barrier, fell on Lt. Col. Deepal
Pusella of 55-3 Brigade, with 7 Vijayaba Regiment (VR) commanded by him.
This earth wall was built to cover the 500 metre-broad strip and it was
as high as 10 feet.
The forces, in small groups, carried out reconnaissance on the wall this
week too. The forward observation officer for artillery Lt. Chandrajith,
with four others, moved up stealthily in search of possible targets in
the Tiger defense. Crawling in open areas for about 250 metres, they
were spotted by Tiger snipers and fired upon, along with the sniper
fire, the LTTE also directed mortar fire at them. Lt. Chandrajith and a
soldier died in the enemy fire. The other two in the team were injured.
The task of recovering the bodies of the dead and rescuing the injured,
without allowing them to fall into enemy hands, fell upon the commanding
officer (CO) of Bravo Company of 7 VR, Lt. Tharanga Thusara. The time
was around 2.30 pm.
Lt. Tharanga, with four others, left on their mission, but, since it was
open terrain, and all Tiger guns were turned in that direction, they
too, were fired upon before long.
Capt. Indika Prasanna, seeing what was happening, provided covering
fire. In the meantime, Lt. Tharanga succeeded in moving the injured and
the dead into a ditch created by an air strike. To extricate themselves
from this safe ditch became even more difficult, as the Tigers directed
heavy fire at them, during which,
Lt. Tharanga’s radio man was killed and Lt. Tharanga himself became
Trapped in the ditch with the dead and the wounded and his surviving two
soldiers, he was on the radio asking for help. The CO organised to send
in Capt. Prassanna’s platoon. While this was taking place, Capt. Asanga
Abrew from Delta Company, who was in charge of defending one side of the
FDL, volunteered to lead the recovery mission.
Since these officers and men had been together from Muhumalai, they had
become a well knit Unit, looking out for each other. They all wanted to
be on this rescue mission. The CO while planning to send Capt.
Prasanna’s platoon, Capt. Abrew, with two others, jumped into action
from another side.
The time was around 4.30pm. Under enemy fire, Capt. Abrew and others
managed to get to their colleagues and, while trying to rescue them,
Capt. Abrew and a soldier were killed. While they were hit by enemy
snipers, more colleagues wanted to rush in due to their brotherly
feeling for each other.
At this moment, the Tigers were targetting the Army personnel holed up
in the ditch with machine gun fire and also foot operated 38 mm cannons.
The Army snipers too, by this time, had bagged 11 Tigers. The Army too
had suffered seven dead and 12 wounded.
Meanwhile, 55 Division Commander and others senior officers took charge
of the situation and organised adequate counter measures and saved those
trapped in the line of enemy fire.
Brig. de Silva recommended Capt. Asanga Abrew be bestowed with the Veera
Vickrama Vibushana Award, for volunteering to go and rescue his comrades
and dying in battle. In that battle, the Tigers too, suffered heavy
losess, and in 12 days lost 65 men.
In this battle, soldiers of 7 VR, R.P. Premasiri, S.R. Pathirana, B.G.A.
Lakshitha and M. Kulasinghe made the supreme sacrifice.