The story of the BRAVE SOLDIERS
By Tissa Ravindra Perera
Deployment of troops and reorganising the military structure in the
recently liberated Wanni according to a new defence plan are now
Army Commander Sarath Fonseka has taken steps to set up two new security
divisions in the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi under the new plan.
Maj. Gen. Nandana Udawatta has been appointed as the Commander of
security forces in Mullaitivu, and Maj. Gen. Channa Goonetilleka the new
Commander for Kilinochchi.
The Army Commander had been frequenting the Wanni army headquarters
to monitor the developments in the battlefield regardless of security
concerns expressed by national intelligence and however, it is generally
accepted that close monitoring of the operations in the North by the
Army Commander was a main factor that contributed to the victory. Even
after the victory the Army Commander has decided to regularly visit the
Wanni headquarters to personally direct the implementation of the new
The Army Commander is paying special attention to deployment of
troops in such a manner as to provide the suitable environment for
re-settlement of the displaced civilians.
The removal of land mines and booby traps is now being carried out in
Kilinochchi, Elephant Pass and Pudukudyirruppu as part of a clearing
operation. The security arrangements are being made to prevent terrorism
raising its ugly head once again.
Even now there are small units of Special Forces (SF) and Commando
Regiments (CR) with two Infantry Battalions (IR), each attached to them,
deployed in Wanni to search and destroy terrorists scattered in small
Search operations too are on to unearth possible Tiger arsenals that
had gone unnoticed in Tiger strongholds in Wanni.
28 Infantry Battalions that were in the frontlines of the recently
concluded battles have been deployed in the Wanni jungles to look out
for any signs of terrorist presence.
Under the direction of the Army Commander already 53 Division under
Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratna and 58 Division under Brigadier Shavendra
Silva have been converted into two additional Divisions. Accordingly 53
Division will take up position in Mankulam.
Strengthening armed forces
In a bid to meet a possible security threat from an outside source in
the future, government has approved further strengthening the armed
Likewise plans are underway to step up intelligence activities.
Search operations for the recovery of Tiger arsenals are also expected
to be intensified after questioning the surrendered leaders. The 56
Division intelligence, on information received from Tiger cadres taken
in for questioning recovered 300 kilos of C4 explosives at
While the searches for Tiger military material are on, investigations
are also carried out to identify security personnel believed to have
been in the pay of the Tigers.
With the arrest of a colonel who had been in the pay of the Tigers,
much more information about such renegades is flowing in.
Among the suspects are a major general, a colonel and a few others of
the Navy, Police and the CID.
The colonel, who was taken in, had been serving at the Ratmalana
camp. While being there, a man named Prabakaran, who was a Tiger mole
posing as a businessman, had been visiting him frequently. The Tiger
agent had befriended the colonel, a habitual gambler, by readily
offering him Rs.50,000 when the latter heavily lost in a game at a club.
The colonel had later been selling the Tiger agent sensitive security
intelligence to meet his gambling debts.
This colonel had even bought his wife a car worth Rs.3.4 million with
money obtained from the Tigers. The wife, who was a teacher at an
International School, too is in Police custody.
Prabakaran, the fake businessman who had been associating with army
personnel with the ulterior motive of assassinating President Mahinda
Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Gen. Sarath Fonseka
too is in Police custody now.
The colonel who was bought by the Tigers had taken a Tiger suicide
bomber to ceremonies at Diyatalawa Defence Academy, and at Deyatakirula
exhibition held at the BMICH to enable him to assassinate the President,
but the Tiger cadre failed in his mission as he could not go near the
President due to tight security.
Again when the President was scheduled to leave on a foreign tour the
treacherous colonel had conveyed the information to this Tiger cadre for
him to make another try and this has been confirmed by Government
Investigators also have found that this colonel had given on hire a
van to the Army. A major general who is to be taken into custody, is
currently on training abroad. He had been attending many meetings where
security matters had been discussed while working in Colombo. He also
had been regularly meeting the fake businessman. Investigations are now
on to ascertain whether this officer was knowingly maintaining contact
with the Tiger agent.
This discovery of traitors has pointed to the suspicion that the
Tigers may have been having many other links in the South on their
payroll for gathering sensitive security intelligence. Now the search is
on for nabbing persons who have had Tiger connections.
The security threat to the President and the top defence authorities is
still there undiminished. Therefore, security needs to be beefed up.
Although the war is over the Tiger cadres who infiltrated Colombo are
yet lurking around. They have to be flushed out and that is the task in
hand for the intelligence.
Several changes in the Army hierarchy have been made to meet the
exigencies of the new situation and accordingly Army Secretary Brigadier
Sumith Padumadasa has already signed necessary documents to give effect
to the necessary moves.
The vacancy in the post of commander, the 53 Division Anuradhapura which
was created when Major General Nandana Udawatta was posted to Wanni
under post-war defence plan, has been filled by Maj. Gen. Mohan
Jayawardana. Brigadier Sathyapriya Liyanage takes over as Commander 3
Brigadier Maithri Dias who was Chief of Security at Army Headquarters
has been appointed War Assistant to Army Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka.
Col. Janaka Mohotti fills the vacancy that occurred with the new
appointment of Brigadier Maithri Dias. Col. Kapila Udalupola has been
appointed Deputy Chief of Security.
Brigadier Rohana Bandara who was the Commander 2 SF takes over as the
Commander 56 Division.
2IC 55 Division Brigadier Nissanka Ranawana takes over as the Commander
2STF. Commander Weli-oya Col. A.R. Ranawaka takes over as the commander
of the 2IC 55 Division.
Col. Sarath Wijesingha takes over as the Commander 3 STF. Col. Jayantha
Seneviratna takes over as the Commander Weli-oya.
Effort to skip
An effort made by Prabakaran to skip the country during his final
hours with foreign assistance has been revealed. A diplomat and a
politician of a Western nation had been involved in an attempt to sneak
away five Tiger leaders via the International Red Cross to the capital
of their country.
On May 16 when the name list of these five leaders was presented to the
government seeking their release by this Western nation, the government
had rejected the request. They could not surrender via a third party but
could do so direct to the government the foreign mediators were told.
Throughout the May 17 night, desperate LTTE leaders had been in
contact with several countries via a satellite phone, government sources
revealed. There had been telephone exchanges with foreign politicians
and journalists of many countries. One of these satellite phones used by
an LTTE leader belonged to an NGO.
Another satellite phone call made on May 17 has been identified as
one taken by Tiger leader Prabhakaran to contact KP, the man in charge
of LTTE`s foreign dealings.
Replying to Prabha`s request to seek foreign help at this critical hour
when they were facing decimation, KP had said: “No country will help us.
There is no way out but surrender. We cannot rely on the international
community. The Sri Lankan Government does not listen to them,” KP had
When this conversation took place Prabakaran was in the mangroves of
Nandikadal lagoon. The area where the Tiger leader found himself at the
time was under army fire from all quarters.
Troops commanded by Lt. Col. Lalantha Gamage supported by SF 681 led by
Col. G.V. Ravipriya under the direction of Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratna
were directing artillery fire at this area throughout May 18.
Troops of Vijayaba 4 regiment, commanded by Lt.Col. Rohita Aluvihare
had closed in on the mangroves area where Prabakaran lay hidden in his
last moments on May 19. Given the strategic importance of the lagoon
covered by mangroves, the army had thrown two security rings around it
and built up bunkers in the muddy waters at the centre of lagoon.
An eight-member team belonging to the Delta Company led by Sgt.
Bandara under the direction of Captain Sirisena who commanded it were on
guard at the front defence line, when about 100 Tigers led by Jeyam of
their military wing advanced towards them to create a gap for
Prabhakaran and other top leaders to escape.
The team led by Sgt. Bandara swung into action taking the Tigers by
surprise. Although it was an eight man team, they fought on for hours
until another eight man team was sent by Lt.Col. Aluvihare came to their
The battle raged from 3.30am to 6.00am on May 18, and realising he could
not achieve his goal Jeyam and cadres retreated into the mangroves once
more. During the battle Sgt. Bandara made the supreme sacrifice along
with three others and eight were wounded.
After this incident the Tigers once again launched an onslaught with
artillery and armoured tanks fire throughout the day on May 18.
As the night approached the army deployed the Charley Company of 4VR to
secure the lagoon. There, Sgt. Muthubanda had heard someone he took for
Prabhakaran barking at his men in Tamil:”You are Black Tigers. Don’t run
away like women.” Here some of those guarding Prabhakaran had wanted to
surrender to the Army and moved forward when Prabha screamed at them and
shot some of them down as revealed later.
At dawn on May 19, the Commander of 68-1 and Commander of 4VR and a
few other officers had gone to the mangroves area on a search operation.
Platoon leader Kirinda with Sgt. Muthubanda and Sgt. Wijesingha of
the Charley Company under Lt. Nalaka had joined the search operation in
the mangroves about 7.30am. As they neared the mangroves, they were
greeted with several rounds of fire. And they started firing back and
throwing grenades. When guns fell silent, they started combing the
mangroves. After a gun battle troops around 10.00am found the body of
the Tiger leader lying among the mangroves. The bodies of his personal
guards were strewn around.
The Captain Ali that entered the Sri Lankan territorial waters with a
shipment of relief for displaced civilians in the North was detained by
the Navy when it was about 160 nautical miles away from the shoreline.
This much publicised ship had set sail from the UK under the name
“chanangami” which later has been changed to Captain Ali.