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 Post subject: Military push to free Eastern Province from the LTTE
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 4:28 am 
LTTE will be driven out of Eastern province: army
"Tigers using the people in Kadiraveli as human shields"

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Sri Lankan security forces are preparing to launch a massive campaign to completely free the Eastern Province from the LTTE. The LTTE are already in retreat as they are unable to face the combined onslaught of both Government as well as the Karuna faction. The Karuna faction has estimated that the LTTE's power in the East has now been reduced to some 1000 cadres restricted to Kokkadicholai, Thoppigala, Vakarai and Kadiraveli areas.

B. Muralidhar Reddy
@ The Hindu


COLOMBO: The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) chief Sarath Fonseka has said that the LTTE would be driven out of the Eastern province "so that civilians could pursue their daily lives peacefully."

In a statement attributed to Lt. Gen. Fonseka the SLA on Wednesday alleged that for the past two weeks the LTTE continuously fired artillery and mortars at the Security Forces using the people in the Kadiraveli area as "human shields."

"The people who have had to bear the brunt of these artillery and mortars attacks have been forced to leave their homes and villages and seek safety in the areas controlled by the Security Forces," it said.

The SLA said because of these "terrorist activities," from December 1, 4028 persons including of 2947 children have arrived into areas controlled by the Security Forces. Besides, due to the attacks on schools, hospitals and villages another 3,210 have been displaced.

The two sides are engaged in intense fighting in the Vaharai sector of the Batticaloa district for last several days now. Vaharai is the LTTE's last major stronghold in the Eastern province. Both sides accuse each other for using civilians as a human cover.

Lt. Gen. Fonseka has been quoted as saying that the President recently announced that the Security Forces have the required resources and strength to counter terrorism and it was amply demonstrated in the past few days in the Eastern province.

The SLA said the LTTE cadres who escaped from Sampur have now retreated to Vaharai and Kadiraveli and are harassing the people firing artillery and mortars at the Security Forces. However these terrorists according to the Commander of the Army are retreating while two lines of their Forward Defence Line's have been overrun by the Security Forces.

The SLA said that the strength of the LTTE has been weakened since the Karuna faction broke away in March 2004. "But, this is not the first instance the LTTE has lost its hold in the Eastern province. During the period 1993 - 1994, LTTE influence was swept away under then Commander Eastern province Brigadier Lucky Algama," it said.

Separately Morten Hoeglund, Member of Parliament and spokesman on foreign affairs for the Progress Party, the largest Opposition party in Norway refuted charges levelled against Norwegian International Development Minister, Erik Solheim by LTTE rebel leader, Karuna and carried in the Sri Lanka state owned Daily News.

Separately, the President's Secretariat said that Jaffna is "fast returning to normal".


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 Post subject: LTTE defence line falls in Vakarai region
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 4:33 am 
LTTE defence line falls in Vakarai region

The LTTE had lost their first and the strongest line of defences between Panichankerni and Kadjuwatte. Troops are in the process of consolidating the newly captured positions amidst sporadic fire.

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by Shamindra Ferdinando
@ The Island /14Dec2006


The ongoing operations in the Eastern theatre are aimed at bringing Vakarai region under government control. The government intends to neutralize LTTE units, particularly their long range weapons deployed in the area and deny them easy access to the sea front.

The LTTE had lost their first and the strongest line of defences between Panichankerni and Kadjuwatte. Troops are in the process of consolidating the newly captured positions amidst sporadic fire. Advancing troops came across UNHCR tents which had been used by the LTTE.

A senior Defence Ministry official yesterday expressed confidence in completing the operation in the near future. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he said that the government would go ahead with the operation. "We have to neutralise their artillery and mortar pieces to prevent further attacks on civilian settlements in the area," he said. "The bottom line is that we wouldn’t be shackled by the ceasefire agreement." He acknowledged that the presence of civilians impeded the operations.

Earlier, troops brought Sampur under their control. In the first week of September troops expanded their Muhamalai frontline.

The LTTE is believed to be unable to reinforce its cadres deployed in the Vakarai region due to the increased presence of the Navy off Vakarai. Although the LTTE initially managed to delay the advance, troops are gradually taking the upper hand.

Their operations are being supplemented by small group operations conducted by Special Forces in addition to raids carried out by the Karuna faction.

Army Headquarters said that troops killed several senior LTTE cadres including the Vakarai leader Viduthalai. The LTTE subsequently identified him as a ‘Lieutenant Colonel.’ Troops also killed Arivu, the second-in-command in Trincomalee. He had been ‘Colonel’ Sornam’s deputy.

The Vakarai region encompasses a large expanse of land north of Navalady Junction extending 50km to the Verugal River. The army controls Navalady Junction.

The region’s eastern boundary extends to the shores overlooking the Bay of Bengal and the West, lined by agricultural land and forests. The Batticaloa-Trincomalee highway (A-15) passes through Vakarai.

The villages of Kayankerni, Mankerni, Pannichchankerni, Vakarai, Kandalady, Paalchenai and Kathiravelly lie along A-15 (from south to north). The Uppaar Lagoon separates the coast and the hinterland. Vakarai village proper lies east of the lagoon by the coast.

Since the operations began over a week ago, the army lost 24 officers and men. Army headquarters placed the number of wounded at 68. The Island learns that about 200 terrorists had been killed in the Vakarai region after the fall of Sampur. Of them about 70 had been killed in the past few days. The operation got underway after a series of successful operations conducted by Special Forces in the region, particularly west of Vakarai.


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 Post subject: Vakarai under siege
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 1:34 am 
Vakarai under siege

Last Sunday was a crucial operation undertaken by all three regiments of the Special Forces- 1, 2 and 3, commanded by Majors Ihalagama, Peiris and Major Senerath Yapa.

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@ Source: The Nation / 17Dec2006

While the Special Forces have been infiltrating Vakarai-Verugal region during the past weeks, last Sunday was a crucial operation undertaken by all three regiments of the Special Forces- 1, 2 and 3, commanded by Majors Ihalagama, Peiris and Major Senerath Yapa.

Accompanying these elite forces were infantry formations from the 6 Viajayabahu Infantry Regiment (VIR) and the 6/8 Gemunu Watch (GW).
The battle plan was such that the Special Forces were to capture areas and hand over same for the accompanying infantry troops to hold on to.

Special Forces accompanied by infantry troops from the 6th Gemunu Watch advanced into the Panichankerni area amid intense fire and captured an area of about four and half square kilometres. After initially offering resistance, the Tigers deserted their bunkers and fled along with their wounded cadres. Several Tiger cadres died and three Special Forces and 8 soldiers of the 6 Gemunu Watch Regiment were killed in the confrontation. The security forces were keen on locating LTTE pockets to prevent artillery attacks on government-controlled areas secured in this operation.

Backed by 1 SF Delta Squadron, the infantry troops moved into Kaddamurikulam and killed 19 Tiger cadres. The security forces captured a row of bunkers at Tranctor Junction on Sunday itself.

Meanwhile, the Charlie Squadron of the Special Forces along with infantry troops advanced about 6 kilometeres from Kaddakuruvikulam and was poised to attack LTTE bunkers in an area north of Thirikonamadu.

Another immediate task of the security forces was to sever the link between Mavil Aru and the Triconamadu axis.

Captain Manju Serasinghe and his battalion which successfully led the Mavil Aru and Sampur operations and Lieutenant Pushpakumara were commanding this part of the operation. They occupied an LTTE camp amid RPG fire by the fleeing LTTE cadres. A group from the 6 Vijayabahu Regiment also arrived to assist them in this operation.

Lieutenant Pushpakumara, who was tasked with the job said, it was not possible as his flank was open and Captain Manju Serasinghe agreed to undertake the assault as his group was positioned lower down. The operation was successfully carried out and the security forces achieved their goal. The two SF teams moved a further six kilometres from Triconamadu and captured several bunkers.

However, ironically, Captain Serasinghe and four Special Forces were killed in a bomb blast while inspecting one of the deserted LTTE camps.
After the operation, the victors assembled around the camp and both Capt. Serasinghe and Lt. Pushpakumara, along with soldiers of the 6 Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (VIR), were around. Placed there was a bomb that apparently could blast in all directions (360 degrees).

Capt. Serasinghe was killed and along with him three other SF personnel died and two more were injured. In Lt. Pushpakumara’s group one SF personnel died and there were six casualties, while from the Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment five died and there were 15 casualties.

Besides, Special Forces backed by infantry, troops from the 8 Gemunu Watch set out from Mahindapura. They came under artillery fire that killed three of the Special Forces and eight of the infantry soldiers of the 8 Gemunu Watch.

In Vakarai, the Special Forces ambushed a red cab and killed an unidentified Tiger leader. Meanwhile the security forces found LTTE bunkers erected with tents issued by the UNHCR to the displaced of the tsunami disaster in LTTE controlled areas.

On Tuesday the LTTE launched a fresh artillery attack on security forces detachments at Kirimichchiya, Panichchankerni and Kadjuwatta in the Eastern province. The Tigers are believed to be pounding 122mm and 152mm heavy artillery on the military establishments and nearby civilian settlements from the Vakarai area. The Defence Ministry maintains that according to latest radar plots, the LTTE has moved its heavy artillery close to the General Hospital, Vakarai and to the Tamil Central College, Vakarai.

On Thursday Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets bombed LTTE gun positions west of Panichchankerni Bridge after information that the LTTE had shifted one of its heavy artillery guns to this area from where it took on security forces’ defence line south of Panichchankerni. From here the Tigers also could attack the Army camps at Mankerni and Kadjuwatte.

Meanwhile, security forces complained that the LTTE was erecting bunkers close to the Panchankarni bridge, a charge refuted by the SLMM.
The security forces had video filmed the Head of the Monitoring Mission in Batticaloa Arther Wetchton in conversation with a regional leader of the LTTE at the bunker site. When Commander of 23 Brigade in Welikanda, Brigadier Daya Ratnayake made inquiries in this regard over the telephone from the SLMM official concerned, he had denied any knowledge of the incident. However, the SLMM official had immediately moved from the scene when the Brigadier observed that the LTTE regional leader could be taken out by sniper gunfire.

Intercepted LTTE messages revealed that Batticaloa- Ampara special commander Bhanu who currently is in the Wanni has told his followers in the east that he will be brining in reinforcements from the Wanni.

According to intelligence reports, the security forces have placed the strength of the LTTE in Vakarai at 700 Tiger cadres, scattered all over a vast area. The security forces are planning to consolidate their power in Vakarai by next January.

Tiger cadres fleeing from Vakarai came under attack by members of the Karuna faction in Meeyankulama area. About 25 Tiger cadres were killed and another 20 injured in the confrontation.

It was a special feat that the Karuna faction saved Sergeant K.M.S. Ratnayake who was captured by the LTTE on October 6 during a military operation launched from Kajuwatta army camp. During the confrontation this Thursday, the Sergeant had cried “I am army..I’m army” during the confrontation to prevent himself being shot by the Karuna loyalists. Once rescued, he was rushed to the Polonnaruwa Base Hospital.

Over seven months back, an effort by a group of security forces to penetrate the Vakaneri area ended in disaster with 12 soldiers getting killed.

This Thursday’s rescue operation only goes to prove that the Karuna group is gradually gaining ground and making its presence felt in an important region of the East.

Intelligence reports indicated that the LTTE has run short of ammunition and they are compelled to bring them from Toppigala.

The Thoppigala area is commanded by Nagesh under Swarnam.

LTTE’s Batticaloa Amparai Special Commander Banu, who is in the Wanni, has urged the cadres to hold on till he arrived with men and material.



Civilians caught in the ‘military advantage’ crossfire

With the Batticoloa- Trincomalee main road becoming very dangerous to travel many civilians were trekking through jungle paths in order to get to safety.


The civilians of Vakarai continue to be caught in the crossfire, with both sides of the conflict trying to use them to their own advantage. The government and the army are reported to be encouraging the civilians to flee, in order to successfully engage the LTTE, causing minimum harm to the civilian population in the face of growing international pressure. The Tigers in turn have become desperate and are forcing the civilians to stay back since they can be used as human shields. This was demonstrated on several occasions when the Tigers fired artillery and mortars from areas with high density of civilian population.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) along with several UN agencies managed to go in to Vakarai last Tuesday (12) but has failed since then to take any supplies to the beleaguered people. On that occasion the ICRC had visited the Vakarai hospital from where 30 civilians were evacuated. This group included seven children as well.

Tragedy struck when two boats in a cluster of nine carrying well over 60 people, capsized killing six people. Over 50 survivors were either rescued or managed to swim ashore. Valachchenai hospital sources said that four bodies were brought there while two more were reported to be in the Vakarai hospital.

Meanwhile reports from Vakarai said there was a lull in violence yesterday for few hours while the displaced were allowed to move out of certain areas of southern Vakarai. Few buses were sent from the government side in order to transport those fleeing the fighting.

However several thousand civilians were finding it impossible to move along the main A15 highway due to intense shelling from both sides. The displaced were stuck in a stretch of land roughly seven kilometers, along the A15.

With the Batticoloa- Trincomalee main road becoming very dangerous to travel many civilians were trekking through jungle paths in order to get to safety. Some of them arrived in Sinhapura village north of Welikanda, while others have been finding their way to the Polonaruwa-Batticoloa road through the jungle. These people are now housed in seven camp sites put up by the government. The estimates regarding the number of displaced people are varying.

ICRC sources say that four to five thousand people have crossed over to government held areas since the fighting started. The International Committee of the Red Cross and other UN agencies along with the government are providing assistance to these people. From 35,000 civilians living in Vakarai, many have now become destitute. Adding to this number are the thousands who moved in to the Vakarai-Verugal region after the fighting in the Muttur region in August. These people have got displaced for the second time in a matter of months.

The situation in Vakarai is critical according to aid workers. They say there is an acute shortage of food and medicine. “The army is preventing the supply of food and medicine to these areas since they want the people to leave” said an aid agency worker who wished not to be named. He also mentioned how there is now a propaganda war going on between the army and the LTTE while the civilians are caught in the middle.

“The army allowed a single lorry to pass through a check point, while refusing to let the others go and video taped the lorry. They continuously replayed the footage on national television projecting as if a large convoy was sent through to the uncleared areas.

The Vakarai hospital has got some respite with the Italian Red Cross moving in to assist the doctors there. Medical supplies however are in short supply and with aid agencies failing to get through to the area the situation is expected to get worse in the coming days.


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 Post subject: "The Tigers did not let us go"
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 1:48 am 
Fleeing Tamil refugees describe being held by separatists as Sri Lanka shelled camps

"The Tigers did not let us go. They shot in the air to scare us or threatened that we will be locked up," said a man who identified himself as Kandasamy, a father of six. He did not give his full name fearing reprisals.

Copyright © 2006 the International Herald Tribune / The Associated Press
Monday, December 18, 2006


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(RIDITENNE, Sri Lanka ) Tamil civilians who crossed a jungle to escape heavy fighting in an undeclared civil war described Monday being held by force by Tamil separatists as the Sri Lankan government shelled rebel-controlled villages.

"Artillery shells fell into the school we were living in. If they (the army) are going to attack even refugee camps, where are we going to be safe?" said Nagakanni, a mother of two. She only gave her first name, fearing reprisals for her comments.

She is one of more than 300 ethnic Tamil men, women and children who braved heavy rain and trekked 56 kilometers (35 miles) for nearly two days without food through land-mine strewn jungles and across a river to arrive Monday in Riditenne, a government-held village in eastern Batticaloa district.

The refugees say that they took this desperate action because the rebels did not let them leave, even after more than 50 refugees were killed by government shelling into Vaharai and several neighboring rebel-held villages in Batticaloa.

The United Nations last week said some 35,000 people were trapped in the fighting and asked the separatist Tamil Tigers to allow refugees to move to safer areas.

The U.N. also asked the government to open the main road and accept the refugees. The fleeing refugees said Monday they trudged through the jungle because the main road was closed.

Over the last few weeks, the government claimed that the rebels were holding the civilians captive as human shields, while the rebels say the government sealed the only road out of the area.

The majority of the civilians lived in camps in rebel-controlled villages, having fled from the neighboring Trincomalee district during a clash in August.

"The Tigers did not let us go. They shot in the air to scare us or threatened that we will be locked up," said a man who identified himself as Kandasamy, a father of six. He did not give his full name fearing reprisals.

He said the rebels told him, "'Who is going to be with us during this struggle?'" when explaining why they could not flee the heavily shelled area.

Nagalingam Santhamani delivered a baby girl on the road on Monday as she fled.

She was helped by another fleeing woman. Later, when she arrived in Riditenne, Sri Lankan soldiers sent her to a government hospital in an ambulance for further medical care.

Nagakanni, the mother of two, said, "We lived a miserable life there (in rebel territory), we had no food. Even when we got some thing to eat, we could not eat it because we had to be on the run all the time."

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been fighting the government since 1983, demanding a self-ruled homeland for Sri Lanka's 3.1 million minority Tamils, citing decades of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese-dominated state.

A Norwegian-brokered cease-fire officially still holds but more than 3,500 fighters and civilians have been killed in renewed fighting this year.

More than 65,000 people died in the conflict before the cease-fire.



Thousands flee Vakarai

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@ DM / By Sunil Jayasiri in Valaichchenai

As the number of internally displaced people in Vakarai swelled to 23, 000 by yesterday, the military was seeking support from the international community to neutralize crisis.

A senior army official said local and foreign NGOs should pressurize the Tamil Tigers to open the road block on the Batticaloa-Trincomalee main road through the Panichchankerni Bridge, to ease the situation.

He said yesterday some 2000 people had entered the cleared areas of Ridithenna from the LTTE controlled Vakarai.

He charged that the LTTE had blocked the road and was firing artillery against the military while the trapped civilians were using jungle routes to enter cleared areas.

The official also said three women had delivered babies on their way to cleared areas and one mother had lost her child.

He said despite difficulties the military was doing its best to provide the basic facilities to the civilians who were seeking refuge in the cleared areas.

Meanwhile the official said the Tigers were blocking a large number of youth who were ready to surrender themselves to the military.


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 Post subject: Flush us out at your peril, Sri Lanka rebels warn army
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 1:52 am 
Flush us out at your peril, Sri Lanka rebels warn army

"We will resist in every way. The Sri Lankan government is already in a full-fledged war. It takes two to tango,". "If they accumulate more forces to launch against us, then we will have to make pre-emptive actions in future." - Tiger military spokesman Rasaiah Ilanthiraiyan

18 Dec 2006 08:27:56 GMT
Source: Reuters / By Simon Gardner


COLOMBO, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers warned the army on Monday they would resort to pre-emptive strikes if the military pushes ahead with a declared plan to drive them out of rebel-held territory in the island's volatile east.

The military says more than 17,000 war-displaced have fled camps in and around the Tiger-held town of Vakarai in the district of Batticaloa, some through jungle and others by sea, since early November to escape artillery duels.

The army accuses the Tigers of using civilians as human shields and, to the shock of Nordic truce monitors, has vowed to push them out of areas they control under the terms of a tattered 2002 ceasefire pact which still holds on paper.

The rebels say the civilians are fleeing because of army artillery shells that have hit refugee camps and killed dozens. They deny they have held civilians against their will as some witnesses have said.

"The flushing-out plan ... is not about flushing out the LTTE, it's about displacing all Tamils," Tiger military spokesman Rasaiah Ilanthiraiyan told Reuters by telephone from the rebels' northern stronghold. "It has been happening since independence."

"We will resist in every way. The Sri Lankan government is already in a full-fledged war. It takes two to tango," he added. "If they accumulate more forces to launch against us, then we will have to make pre-emptive actions in future."

Asked if that would include attacks on the capital, given a spate of suicide attacks and killings in recent months, he said the pre-emptive strikes would be confined to the battlefield.

HEMMED IN

The military has hemmed the Tigers in to a 14-mile (22-km) stretch of coastline around Vakarai, and has already driven the rebels out of territory near the strategic northeastern port of Trincomalee further north.

"There is a threat to the civilians in Trincomalee south. They are firing artillery and mortars," said military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe. "So as a defensive measure, we have to get these LTTE mortars and artillery neutralised for these civilians to be resettled."

Thousands of displaced are now crammed in to temples, schools and welfare camps in government terrain, many with little more than the clothes on their backs and living on food handouts.

The United Nations, the Red Cross and the international community have all called on both sides to halt the fighting and guarantee the safety of civilians trapped in the crossfire, but both sides have ignored them.

More than 3,000 troops, civilians and rebel fighters have been killed so far this year in a series of land battles, air strikes, ambushes and attacks. The conflict has killed more than 67,000 people since 1983.

The Tigers, who accuse successive Sinhalese-majority governments in Colombo of discriminating against minority Tamils, say they are intensifying their fight for an independent state in the north and east after President Mahinda Rajapakse rejected their demands for a separate homeland.


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 Post subject: Vakarai almost in the hands of the security forces
 Post Posted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 10:54 pm 
Vakarai almost in the hands of the security forces
Karuna puts icing on Forces’ gains

With the LTTE fast losing its grip on areas under their control in the East the government and the breakaway Karuna faction are expected go flat out to hasten their downfall.

Many of the Wanni Tigers did not have enough time to reach for their weapons during this surprise attack early Saturday morning. A total of 35 Tigers died and some 70 T-56 rifles were recovered along with three RPGs and two rocket launchers. Only two Karuna cadres were injured and the Wanni Tigers were unable to get reinforcements by sea, given the novel naval blockade.

@ Source : The Nation / The island 31DEC2006

With Vakarai almost in the hands of the security forces, the next obvious military target was Toppigala. But, the Security Forces were not going to engage in a major offensive here.

The Karuna Faction was better suited for the operation, given its strong presence in the area. Even though cadres from the Karuna Faction were accustomed to the terrain, they lacked the special training required to penetrate the LTTE bases in this area.

After a three-months crash course, 130 Karuna ‘commandos’ passed out on Christmas Day, signalling their intent.

The Karuna Group badly needed such ‘Commandos’ to improve on its two major successes in July at Paninchankerni, where they killed 25 Wanni Tigers, having lost seven of their men at Vinayagpura, Amparai where they took on the LTTE 73 Base killing at least 29 Wanni cadres while conceding three.

On Monday, the Karuna Group attacked an LTTE camp in Batticaloa, three kilometres from Karadiyanaru, killing a dozen Tigers, the group claimed.

On Christmas eve (Sunday), Karuna faction military wing Leader Riyasilan led an attack on the Illuppadivahanai LTTE camp in Batticaloa killing seven Tigers and destroying a 120 artillery gun.

These two attacks appear diversionary and none of its ‘commandos’ were used, given the bigger plans ahead.

As the week drew to a close, on Friday night, at 10:00 p.m. some 300 cadres, including a sizeable number of ‘commandos’ who passed out on Christmas Day, broke out of their positions to target a Tiger camp at Panchimarapadi, Toppigala, some 35 km Northwest of Batticaloa.

Prior to the operation, led by battle-hardened Pillayan, Special Commander Karuna Group, several reconnaissance missions were undertaken after surveillance of the three LTTE camps (training, women and VIP) in Toppigala. Their target was the battle-hardened Jeyam, LTTE Vakarai Leader Ramesh and Deputy Commander East James, the deputy to Bhanu, who was previously targeted but escaped death in an air raid on Karadiyanaru.

The presence of these two high ranking officers in the area follows intelligence reports. In fact, a separate team from the Karuna group that was handpicked to count and identify the bodies had reported that neither Ramesh nor James was among the dead.

The Operation began by the group breaking up into three teams- advanced, second and back-up- as they penetrated the deep jungles of Toppigala. It was at 1:30 p.m. that they surrounded the Tiger camps, after firing hand grenades and RPGs. Many of the Wanni Tigers did not have enough time to reach for their weapons during this surprise attack early Saturday morning. The operation lasted for about an hour and many Tigers fled into the thick jungle leaving behind their weapons.

A total of 35 Tigers died and some 70 T-56 rifles were recovered along with three RPGs and two rocket launchers. Only two Karuna cadres were injured and the Wanni Tigers were unable to get reinforcements by sea, given the novel naval blockade. There were attempts to obtain reinforcements from the specialised Jeyanathan brigade.

Strangely enough, the pro-LTTE Tamilnet that is known for its prompt reporting of incidents on its website, considerably delayed posting a story on the Toppigala attack.

The Tamilnet report said: “The LTTE launched a counter-attack on a group of paramilitary cadres of Karuna Group, Friday night, when the group attempted to launch a penetration attack on a LTTE camp in Kudumbimalai, northwest of Batticaloa.”

A wounded paramilitary cadre was captured alive and the dead body of another was recovered by the Tigers, according to the Military Spokesman of the Tigers Irasiah Ilanthirayan. Four Tiger fighters were wounded in the confrontation. The paramilitary had entered the LTTE territory to launch an attack on a LTTE camp, while the Sri Lanka Army was providing field artillery support.

The Defence Ministry website, which is quite comprehensive in its coverage, failed to even report the story. The LTTE charge that it held one of the Karuna faction cadres captive has not been corroborated by Tamilnet, which previously had posted photographs of its captives.
Now that the Karuna faction has begun to seize the initiative, and with the imminent fall of Vakarai, more such attacks on isolated LTTE camps are likely.

On Saturday itself, another attack was launched by the Karuna group on Kaluwanchikudam in Batticaloa. Two Karuna cadres and three Wanni Tigers died in the attack.

It is reliably learnt that the Karuna group was planning more such operations (with different battle strategies) to flush out the Wanni Tigers from the East. The Karuna group would only lay down its weapons once the LTTE (Wanni) faction is completely flushed out of the East and the Government could ensure the security of the group as well as that of all three communities in the East.

The LTTE has previously demanded that the Karuna group be disarmed in keeping with the Cease-fire Agreement like the other paramilitaries. But, the Karuna group is alive to what the Wanni Tigers did to several unarmed paramilitaries like those in the EPDP, EPRLF and PLOTE who were forced to disarm by the then UNF government.

For the Karuna group, this week provided the opportunity for sweet revenge and the four attacks on Sunday, Monday, Friday and Saturday, demonstrated that they were gaining the upper hand over the Wanni faction in the East.

It appears that both the security forces and the Karuna group are intent on driving the Wanni Tigers out of the East and its is possible that the latter that has registered as a political party by the name Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal may be in the forefront of a political campaign in the East.

The military top brass is of the opinion that the fall of Eastern strongholds would have a crushing impact on the Vanni faction. The military acknowledged that Karuna’s growing military clout had a demoralising effect on the Vanni faction.

Analysts said the offensive on Vakarai was a key step in the government's plan to clear the Tigers from the east.



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 Post subject: Lankan army hopes to clear East by March
 Post Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:26 pm 
Lankan army hopes to clear East by March

"The military top brass is convinced that it would be able to bring the LTTE to its knees on all counts, if the forces can maintain the present military momentum till July this year, though it admits that it will take years to wipe out the residual LTTE pockets."

@ HT / PK Balachandran
Colombo, January 3, 2007


The Sri Lankan Army hopes to drive the LTTE out of the Eastern districts by February or March, and thereafter make a bid to chase the rebels away from the Northern districts also.

The independent Daily Mirror on Wednesday quoted the Army Chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka as saying in Kandy that the East would be totally rid of the LTTE in two or three months.

"After eradicating the Tigers from the East, full strength would be used to rescue the North," he added.

General Fonseka said this on Tuesday while on a visit to the Temple of the Tooth, the most famous Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka.

Earlier, in an informal year-end interaction with the local and foreign media in Colombo, General Fonseka had said that the Security Forces would be able to take the strategic eastern coastal towns of Vaharai and Kadirweli in about a month.

Only the rains and the slushy terrain were preventing the tri-services from launching an offensive to capture the two objectives, he said.

The LTTE, he said, had only about 800 odd fully-trained fighters in the East. It had in addition a militia of about 2,000, which could wield the gun when necessary.

All in all, the LTTE was heavily outnumbered by the Security Forces, and was having a severe manpower crunch, hence the strong bid to recruit kids forcibly, the General said.

He acknowledged that the LTTE cadres were "good fighters" and that the militant group was putting pressure on the security forces "on all fronts". But the rebels' top military commanders were all ageing.

The peace process had made them diversify their interests, he said, hinting that they were not were not as focused militarily as before.

Bid to hold elections in East

In her column "Mirror Politics" commentator Champika Liyanaarachchi quoted government sources to say they expected the East to be cleared of the LTTE by mid February so that elections to a newly created Eastern Provincial Council could be held sometime in 2007.

Following the Supreme Court's order annulling the merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces into single, Tamil-dominated North-Eastern Province in 1987, the Rajapaksa government has gone about creating two separate administrations for the North and the East and is hoping to hold provincial elections, at least in the multi-ethnic Eastern Province.

On operations in the Northern districts, Liyanaarachchi quoted government sources to say that the Security Forces expected hostilities to begin in the Muhamalai sector at the mouth of the Jaffna peninsula in June-July.

This could lead to the Forces making an attempt to take Elephant Pass, from the LTTE and directly threaten the LTTE's main bases in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.

LTTE may agree to patch up to delay confrontation

The government was aware that the LTTE could agree to a compromise in order to avoid a confrontation and a resultant depletion of its cadre strength, Liyanaarachchi said.

However the government was unlikely to soften its military strategy, she felt.

"The military top brass is convinced that it would be able to bring the LTTE to its knees on all counts, if the forces can maintain the present military momentum till July this year, though it admits that it will take years to wipe out the residual LTTE pockets."


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 Post subject: Vakarai, Kadiraweli secured, battle for Verugal rages
 Post Posted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 11:59 pm 
Vakarai, Kadiraweli secured, battle for Verugal rages
Major victory for the Army in key area

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Sunday, January 21, 2007
Source: ST/Nation/Agencies


While over 300 Tiger cadres died in the nearly three-month operation, nearly 50 security force personnel were killed.

More than ten weeks of fighting to further secure military establishments and areas south of the Trincomalee harbour reached a climax on Friday.

The Army sprung a surprise on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to secure the eastern coastal village of Vakarai, the scene of many a tale of human misery in the ongoing undeclared Eelam War IV.

Troops that moved northwards from Kajuwatte found their advance to Vakarai halted at the Panichchankerni bridge. Across the bridge, Tiger guerrillas had fortified their positions, retarding their advance. Almost daily they fired artillery and mortar at advancing troops and the Army camp at Kajuwatte.

On Wednesday, the guerrillas blasted the bridge. Movement of tanks and armoured vehicles was not possible though pedestrian traffic could traverse. It is here that the guerrillas waited for the showdown but that ended in a meltdown of their plans. Army's elite commandos, who have made many sacrifices since the fighting with guerrillas erupted, had entered the town by Friday morning. They had stealthily infiltrated a coastal stretch in Panichchankerni and moved until they reached a promontory. At that point they had crossed across the thin stretch of the Upparu lagoon to Vakarai. They were later joined in by infantry units.

While a fake advance via the Paninchankerni Bridge was made, a few hours after midnight a crack team of around 300 Special Forces under the dark skies dived their way through the Uppar lagoon and were under water for several hours before emerging onto land on Friday morning. Those who got on land first helped the others with ropes. Armed with their T-56 weapons, LPMG and RPGs, they emerged with a bang taking the Tiger cadres, manning the western side of the bridge, by surprise.

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with a well entrenched naval blockade on the eastern coast, a multi-direction ground operation was launched to wrest control of Vakarai. From the North, the forces broke out of the Mahindapura camp and did well to capture Ichchalampattu and Uppural villages on their way to Verugal after tactically withdrawing upwards last week in the face of enemy fire. The advancing troops neutralised enemy mortar fire but faced stiff resistance from artillery fire at Palchenai.

In fact, they captured these villages only after bombing the headquarters of Trincomalee military leader Swarnam at Icchalampattu on Monday. A communication centre, a medical centre and several vehicles used by the leader were destroyed.

Kadiraweli was captured yesterday.

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The advance Commando Regiment that has been moving in from Somapura area and helping capture Ichchalampattu has been ordered to consolidate the area and to further advance towards Verugal. Colonel Charlie Gallage of the Gajaba Regiment who had already taken over the Brigade Command from the Sujith Jayasekera, had began to move forward.

Even while there is fierce fighting north of Verugal and consolidation of the Vakarai area, the LTTE has accepted defeat in latter area but has given no indication of plans to surrender.

When the new president took over as commander-in-chief, the LTTE controlled the eastern sea coast from Foul Point to Mankerni. The Tiger build-up in and around Trincomalee during the 2002-2005 cease-fire period, spanning two governments, was to choke off supplies to the North via the harbour when war resumed. In an around Trincomalee there were 14 LTTE camps, but now there are only two camps at Kadawanakulam and Kumburupiddy.

The task of securing areas south of Trincomalee began with the re-capture of Sampur on September 4, last year. Now that Vakarai and adjoining areas have been re-captured, it provides greater depth in protecting the Trincomalee harbour. More importantly, it denies to the guerrillas the opportunity of directing artillery and mortar fire at the neighbouring Kajuwatte and Mankerni detachments. The Army regaining control of Vakarai denies to the guerrillas a contiguous land-based route from the Trincomalee to Batticaloa district. It will also help in future efforts to re-open the A-15 coastal highway from Batticaloa to Trincomalee.

For weeks the Special Forces infiltrated the Vakarai jungles and on December 10 all three regiments of this elite force were employed in an operation that also involved infantry from the Vijayaba Infantry Regime and the Genumu Watch. Backed by 1 SF Delta Squadron, the infantry troops moved into Kaddamurikulam and after capturing an area they faced a disaster, losing Captain Manju Serasinghe promoted posthumously as Major. Lt. Pushpakumara who narrowly escaped death here died a few weeks later in the on-going operation.

While over 300 Tiger cadres died in the nearly three-month operation, nearly 50 security force personnel were killed.

The re-capture of Vakarai and the recapture of Sampur are only two major steps in trying to isolate the LTTE from the East. There are still many, many more. There are vast areas in the east which they still dominate. For Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, who has vowed to "liberate" the east and then the north, the task is therefore gigantic.


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