Login    Forum    Search    FAQ

Board index » General Topics » Sri Lanka Latest News




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: 8 sailors, 7 tigers killed in Delft attack - update -3
 Post Posted: Thu May 24, 2007 1:34 pm 
35 claimed killed in Sri Lanka attack

Eight sailors were killed in the incident and three others wounded. The dead sailors are: T. Jayatilleke, K.N. Weerakulasuriya, I.D.U. Silva, R.A. Prasanna, K.S. Weeraratne, W.I.D. Ratnayake, W. Wickremasinghe and W. Pushpakumara. Their last rites are to be accompanied by full Navy honours.

Tamil Tigers earlier claimed they killed at least 35 government sailors in Delft Thursday. The LTTE later revealed that seven cadres including two women were killed. They comprised one major, three captains, two lieutnenants and one second lieutnenant.


Copyright © 2007 newkerala.com
Thu May 24, 2007


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, May 24: The Tamil Tigers claimed they killed at least 35 government sailors in an attack on a naval base in northern Sri Lanka Thursday.

The Sri Lankan military confirmed the attack, saying the rebels used about 15 vessels, including three they referred to as "suicide boats." However, the military sources said they had information of only eight to 10 fatalities and rejected the rebels' higher number, Zee News reported on its Web site.

The insurgent forces staged the pre-dawn raid on a naval facility in the northern region of the country.

"During a search operation, we found 35 bodies of Sri Lankan sailors and weapons. We lost only four of our cadres," said Rasiah Ilanthiriyan, a spokesman for the Tamil Tigers.

The attack followed the decision by the International Red Cross to pull its staff from the front lines of the ongoing fighting between the government and rebel forces.

--- UPI


Delft totally under Navy control
"18 Sea Tigers and 4 sailors killed" - Navy

Copyright © 2006 Media Centre for National Security
Thu May 24, 2007


Intercepted LTTE communication revealed that 18 Sea Tiger cadres including 4 leaders had been killed and another large number injured, the Navy confirmed. The Navy reiterates that no naval craft were destroyed or damaged in the attack as claimed by pro LTTE media. 4 sailors who were deployed on the Delft Island were killed in the confrontation.

The pre dawn LTTE sea Tiger attack on the Delft Island was successfully repulsed by the Navy killing 18 Sea Tigers and destroying 4 LTTE boats. Intercepted LTTE communication revealed that 18 Sea Tiger cadres including 4 leaders had been killed and another large number injured, the Navy confirmed.

18 Sea Tiger boats, including 6 suicide boats and 12 attack craft attempted to breach a Navy security point south of the Delft Island around 00.30 a.m. this morning (24). Naval Fast Attack Craft patrolling the seas off the Delft shore and naval ground troops engaged the flotilla of Sea Tiger boats inflicting severe damages to the Sea Tigers and their boats.

Navy's Dovra Fast Attack Craft completely destroyed two LTTE Sea Tiger boats forcing the enemy flotilla to flee towards Nachchikuda, South East of the Delft Island.

The Air Force engaged withdrawing Sea Tiger boats destroying two and disabling another.

The Navy reiterates that no naval craft were destroyed or damaged in the attack as claimed by pro LTTE media. 4 sailors who were deployed on the Delft Island were killed in the confrontation while another 4 sustained injuries.

The search operation launched by naval troops in Delft following the attack concluded by noon today.

Delft Island is totally under the control of the Sri Lanka Navy. All the Islets in the Jaffna peninsula are under the control of the Sri Lanka Navy.

The Navy says that the Delft Island is a vital surveillance point in the Island's west coast to monitor LTTE arms smuggling from Tamil Nadu, India. The Navy believes that the Sea Tigers would have attempted to breach Delft defences to disrupt naval surveillance that has helped in blocking LTTE sea piracy and smuggling of weapons and explosives in to the Island's north and east.


Top 
  
 
 Post subject: WHY LTTE ATTACKED DELFT NAVAL BASE?
 Post Posted: Sat May 26, 2007 5:25 pm 
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR
PAPER NO.238


WHY LTTE ATTACKED DELFT NAVAL BASE?

"LTTE took away two anti-aircraft guns with ammunition, two Israeli machine guns, one rocket-propelled grenade launcher and eight assault rifles. They badly damaged the base infrastructure and withdrew after killing over 20 sailors of the Sri Lankan Navy."

Copyright © South Asia Analysis Group
By B.Raman / Saturday, May 26, 2007


Till March 26,2007, the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) enjoyed the command of the skies. There was no opposition to its punitive strikes against the positions held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTW) in the Eastern and Northern Provinces and to its intimidatory strikes against the Sri Lankan Tamil population, inflicting a large number of civilian casualties. The LTTE faced difficulty in countering the punitive and intimidatory air strikes of the SLAF. This was due to a serious depletion of its anti-aircraft capability and the difficulties faced by it in procuring anti-aircraft guns and ammunition and surface-to-air missiles.

2. As a result of this, the Sri Lankan authorities did not consider it necessary to provide strengthened anti-aircraft defences to their army, naval and air force stations in the Tamil areas. They feared only land-based threats to them. They did not anticipate any threat from the air.

3. The position has since changed as a result of the LTTE's Tamil Eelam Air Force (TAF) going into action since March 26,2007, and demonstrating its capability for conventional air operations on ground-based targets and to evade the anti-aircraft defences. The TAF has already carried out three successful air strikes on ground targets of a strategic significance----two in the Colombo area and one in the Jaffna area.

4. The psychological and economic impact of these strikes has unnerved the Sri Lankan authorities. The psychological impact has been in denting the self-confidence of the Sri Lankan security forces and affecting their credibility in the eyes of the public. The economic impact has been on tourism. Flights of nervous international airlines were affected and there was a decline in tourist arrivals.

5. The expected operations of the armed forces to recover territory under the control of the LTTE in the Northern Province have not yet materialised. The SLAF has not been as active as it used to be before the TAF went into action. Fearing more strikes by the TAF, the Government of President Mahinda Rajapakse has given priority to strengthening the anti-aircraft defences in Colombo and Jaffna. Apart from taking conventional measures such as providing anti-aircraft guns and ammunition to all major military posts in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, it has also entered into negotiations with Pakistan and China for the purchase of surface-to-air missiles.

6. Taking advantage of this, the LTTE has embarked on a policy of identifying military posts where anti-aircraft defences have been set up, raiding them and capturing the anti-aircraft weapons supplied to them. It was in pursuance of this tactics that the LTTE raided a strategic naval base at Delft, an islet off the northern Jaffna peninsula, shortly after midnight on May 24,2007, dismantled its anti-aircraft defences and took away two anti-aircraft guns with ammunition, two Israeli machine guns, one rocket-propelled grenade launcher and eight assault rifles. They badly damaged the base infrastructure and withdrew after killing over 20 sailors of the Sri Lankan Navy. The raid lasted about two hours. The officers at the base frantically kept asking for an air strike against the raiding Sea Tigers and their boats, but the SLAF did not come to their help. Later, it claimed that the SLAF went into action and attacked the Sea Tiger boats as they were withdrawing and inflicted casualties and damage. There has been no corroboration of this so far.

7.The Government has not yet been able to remove the nervousness caused in Sri Lankan and foreign business circles----particularly among those in the civil aviation and tourism sectors---in the wake of the TAF's air raids in the Colombo area. Fear of an LTTE retaliation from the air continues to have a negative impact on the Government and the Security Forces.


(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: itschen36@gmail.com )


Top 
  
 
 Post subject: Tigers Launch Pre-Dawn Amphibious Assault in Delft
 Post Posted: Sat May 26, 2007 7:19 pm 
Tigers Launch Pre-Dawn Amphibious Assault in Delft

The tigers killed in the Delft attack were posthumously promoted. They comprised one major, three captains, two lieutnenants and one second lieutnenant. Apart from killing and injuring at least ten navy men the tigers seized a radar unit and also took away a cache of arms and ammunition. The LTTE dismantled the radar unit and removed it from premises. They also seized three .50 calibre guns, two PK LmG’s, one RPG launcher, eight T- 56 rifles and one AK LMG.

May 25th, 2007
By D.B.S. Jeyaraj


Specialised sea - borne units of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched an amphibious assault in the early hours of May 24th on the Sri Lankan Navy stationed at the Northern Island of Delft. Apart from killing and injuring at least ten navy men the tigers seized a radar unit and also took away a cache of arms and ammunition.

While the LTTE claims that at least 35 security personnel were killed and three vessels including a Dvora gun boat were damaged, the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has denied it. Likewise the GOSL claims of having inflicted destruction on the yigers and repulsing the attack after a protracted battle have been rejected by the LTTE

Delft is the largest of Jaffna’s off - shore Islands and Islets numbering Seventy - eight. Only thirteen of these are inhabited. The Island is called Neduntheevu meaning long Island in Tamil. It’s Sinhala name is Pokurudivaina. Delft was the name given by the Dutch who named it after a city in South Holland. Delft in Netherlands is located between Rotterdam and the Hague. It is known for its canals and its blue pottery known as Delftware.

Neduntheevu or Delft is around 18.3 sq miles or roughly 42 sq km in size. It is 45 km from Jaffna but only 38 km away from Rameshwaram in Inda’s Tamil Nadu coast. Delft is roughly 6 km in length from north to South and about 8km from east to west. The Island has a population of around 5000 people.

The off - shore Islands of Jaffna have been generally under the authority of the Sri Lankan navy. The SLN is assisted in law - enforcement and security by the Police and in a para - military capacity by the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP). The navy has a small base in the northern part of Delft near the main jetty known as Maavilithurai .

This jetty is Delft’s main link to the outside world. People in Delft travel to and from Jaffna by ferry .The two ferry points are b Mavili thurai in Neduntheevu and Kurikadduvaan in Punkudutheevu. Punkudutheevu in turn is approachable by road from Jaffna due to the Pannai causeway built in 1960.

The Navy set up a radar station last year in the Southern part of the Island near the old light house. A second detachment of navy personnel was stationed nearby to protect the radar unit and generally the Southern seas. A guard unit was deployed at the radar unit vicinity itself. Contacts between the navy in the north and South was mainly by land.

There are a few sentry posts along the single main road in Delft. There are no sentries at these posts during night.All personnel return to the two camps after nightfall.

Given its proximity to Rameshwaram, Jafna, Pooneryn and even Mannar the island of Delft is strategically significant. The LTTE has been using the Island for years as a key point in crossing over and back from India. For instance when former northern commander Sathasivampillai Krishnakumar alias “Col” Kittu was injured on March 30th 1987 in a bomb attack his deputies took him to Rameshwaram from Kurikadduvaan via Neduntheevu.

In recent times Delft became crucially important to monitor and restrict LTTE sea movements off the North - Western and to some extent the northern coasts of Sri Lanka. The tigers rely to a great extent on Tamil Nadu for procuring supplies like fuel, non - perishable foods, medical supplies and mechanical equipment. The naval presence in Delft and usage of radar was an irritant if not deterrent to the LTTE in this sphere. Delft’s importance in sea surveillance cannot be underestimated.

It was shortly after midnight around 12.30 am when sea - borne LTTE cadres landed surreptitiously in the beach area known as Vellai in the South - west of Delft. These were areas where migrant fishermen set up their temporary “Vaadis”.Delft along with Thalaiaddy in Vadamaratchy east are two places in Jaffna district where the “karaivalai” dragnets are used for seasonal fishing.

The tigers who landed at the beaches of Vellai split up in two formations. One group swiftly encircled the radar station navy detachment premises. The second group went around the detachment and advanced further. This group set up a “cut - out” point and stationed itself midway between the Northern and Southern naval detachments. This was to prevent navymen in the North coming to the rescue of beleagured comrades in the South.

The assault squad launched its attack on naval premises around 12. 45 am. Some sailors were taken by surprise.The shoot - out lasted till 1.05 am. In twenty minutes the radar unit guard station was over run. At least eight navy personnel were killed in the initial skirmish.

Exchanges of fire continued between the LTTE and those at the detachment. Even as intermittent firing continued LTTE cadres began systematically removing equipment. machinery at the radar unit and guard station. The arsenal was also ransacked.

The LTTE cadres dismantled the radar unit carefully and removed it from premises.. They also seized some weapons from the sailors including three .50 calibre guns, two PK LmG’s, one RPG launcher, eight T- 56 rifles and one AK LMG. The tigers also took a large number of ammunition and shells.

The tigers then began moving out with their booty. The big prize was of course the radar. Initially the tigers may have planned on knocking the radar out but found themselves able to seize it and take it away altogether.

There were 20 to 25 navy men in the Southern and 30 to 35 men in the Northern detachments. A small group of navy men in motor vehicles set out from the North to aid the South. LTTE cadres at the cut - out set up by the tigers fired at vehicles. The Navy men retreated without pursuing their intended mission.

Once this happened the navy men holding out at the Southern detachment were de- moralised. Until that time they had fought hard inflicting injuries on the LTTE and even killing a few tigers. Once they realised re-inforcements would not be coming soon the defenders fled the camp and took cover in the shrub jungles and palmyrah groves.

A flotilla of tiger boats had been deployed at the Southern coastline. While some boats were used to transport cadres and seized military assets , the mission of other vessels was to prevent naval re-inforcements from Kayts and Karainagar reaching the scene.

Eventually three water jet boats and two Dvora gunboats reached the Island around 2.30 am. The gunboats came from Karainagar while waterjets came from Talaimannar.The LTTE boats then engaged these naval vessels at sea off the coast of Poomunai and Samithottamunai. A few tigers were hit in these clashes.

Even as the sea skirmishes occurred the tigers on land began moving out.By 2. 45 am the LTTE withdrew completely from Delft after setting off explosives at the naval base and radar station. But as far as sections of the security personnel were concerned the fight did not end. The navy on land fired contiuously till 4. 30 am giving residents the impression that clashes were continuing.

Meanwhile the LTTE flotilla with cadres and seized military assets on board sailed speedily away. The navy did not give chase but remained close to Neduntheevu coast firing shells sporadically in the direction taken by the tiger flotilla.

The tiger flotilla split up and sailed down to the main sea tiger base at Nacchikudah and two other sea tiger bases at Vidathaltheevu and Pooneryn.

It was after first light that Air force jets came to Delft. More naval vessels also arrived. Thereafter an elaborate search and destroy mission was conducted. In reality it was nothing but a charade. The LTTE cadres and vessels had safely returned unhindered to base hours ago.

It was during daylight that more security personnel were brought from mainland to Delft. A massive combing operation was undertaken. Some injured navy men and others in hiding were located and rescued. By 3 pm the Navy confidently reported that Delft was under total control.

Then came the disinformation and misinformation war. The LTTE had beaten the defence establishment by being the first to break the story of the attack. LTTE defence affairs spokesperson Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan claimed that the naval detachment at Delft had been demolished and at least 35 navy men were killed.

Ilanthiraiyan also said two water jet speedboats were damaged. Also A Dvora in trouble after colliding with a coral reef had sustained extensive damage.The impression sought to be conveyed was that the Delft navy had been given a death blow.

The GOSL propagandists though late tried to outdo the LTTE in “spin”. They claimed that two boats of the LTTE were destroyed by the navy. They also claimed that the airforce had bombed three of the tiger boats at Nachikuda. The LTTE claim regarding naval casualties was also denied.

The LTTE stated initially that only four of their cadres were killed. The GOSL put the LTTE toll much higher. Likewise Ilanthiraiyan placed the Navy casualty figure at over 30. The GOSL denied it flatly.

The LTTE later revealed that seven cadres including two women were killed. They were Sinnathurai Vijayakala alias Thamilventhan, Veerasingham Aingaran alias Muhilan, Panchalingam Suhanthan alias Sugirthan, Santhirasekaran Mayooran alias Sreemaran, Kathiripillai Mariyagowri alias Kalaithendral, Sebastianpillai Mary Kanishta alias Thanivizhi, and Francis punithakumar alias Kadalmainthan.

The tigers killed in the Delft attack were posthumously promoted. They comprised one major, three captains, two lieutnenants and one second lieutnenant. The LTTE cadres were from Jaffna, Mannar and Mullaitheevu districts. Cadres hailing from Neduntheevu had participated in large numbers in the attack.

The media centre for national security listened to details of LTTE casualties being relayed over tiger radio. Then the MCNS announced the names saying it had intercepted LTTE communications.

The Navy maintains an official casualty figure of four dead and four injured. But unofficially sources say that around 8- 10 were killed and 6 - 8 injured.

While LTTE media described the Neduntheevu attack as a great success the GOSL claimed the attack had been repulsed by the navy and air force.

Once again the GOSL and its propagandists seemed to have missed the forest for the trees. The important thing in the attack was not the extent of damage caused but the fact that it had happened. LTTE boats numbering 16 - 18 had been able to proceed from a South - western point on the mainland and travel undetected by sea to Delft and surprise the navy.

Apparently four LTTE formations comprising males and females were engaged in the operation. The sea tigers, black sea tigers , a special amphibian force and a special commando force were involved. The amphibian and marine commando units were modelled on the US Marine corps and SEALS. The LTTE like Eklavya emulating Drona in the “Mahabharatha” had trained these elite formations on the lines of the US marines.

The LTTE’s first major amphibian attack was in 1993 when the Pooneryn - Nagathevanthurai naval complex was attacked. The Tigers came across the lagoon in rafts to escape detection. The operation was then codenamed “Thavalai” or frog. The frog is an amphibean. That name was chosen to signify the amphibious nature of that attack.

Nowadays a whole amphibious unit has been developed.It is called “eeroodaha Sirappu Thaakkuthal ani” by LTTE media. It is reported that the amphibious unit was involved in the attack on Mandaitheevu last August 12th. That attack was a failure and several tigers were killed.

Assertions are made in the Colombo media that the LTTE had intended capturing Delft and was thwarted by the navy and air force. These views seem incorrect. In the first place the LTTE assault force deployed in the operation was not large enough to take over Delft.

More importantly the tigers could not have held on to Delft even if they had taken it over. Given the superior airpower, seapower, manpower and firepower of the armed forces the tigers would have been sitting ducks had they tried to hold Delft.

The operation was aimed at giving a shock to the navy and removing an irritant temporarily at least. The radar unit in Southern Delft was of immense use to the navy in monitoring sea movement by the tigers in that maritime zone. The operation intended knocking out the surveillance facility. But luck favoured the LTTE and it has been able to take the whole radar away.

This does not mean that the GOSL would not substitute another radar in due course but for some time at least there wont be one.The Delft radar point was of crucial importance in monitoring sea tiger movements from Pooneryn, Vidathaltheevu and Nachikudah. It was also useful in monitoring air tiger flights hugging the Mannar coast.

The LTTE has proven a point through this attack. The tigers have demonstrated that they are capable of launching a successful amphibious operation like this and return home safely. This, like the air strikes are all pointers to the fact that the LTTE may be down but is not out. Once again the tiger has crouched to pounce.

The LTTE did not attempt the capture of Delft because the tigers would have been trapped in the Island if they had done so. But the people of Delft are in a perpetual trap and therefore highly vulnerable. The LTTE attack on the navy happened on May 24th. Another incident which happened twenty - two years ago in the month of may illustrates the plight of the people.

On May 14th 1985 a tiger squad raided Anuradhapura and killed many people. On May 15th passengers from Delft boarded the “Kumudini” ferry at Mavilithurai pier to go to Kurikadduvan jetty. A navy boat intercepted “Kumudini” at a short distance from the shore. The sailors in an apparent act of revenge for the Anuradhapura massacre began attacking the innocent Delft civilians. 38 people were shot and.or hacked brutally to death. A monument in memory of these innocent victims has been erected near the Mavilithurai jetty.

What happened in May 15th 1985 was an act of certain individuals in the navy. It had no official sanction. Punishing innocent people living in one place for something perpetrated by others elsewhere is neither just nor prudent. Yet this practice has now become officially sanctioned under the Rajapakse regime.

When Army chief Sarath Fonseka was injured in a bomb attack at the Army headquarters on April 25th last year the immediate consequence was bombing of innocent civilians in Sampoor. Retaliatory measures on the powerless and innocent have become the order of the day under this bully of a regime.

The successful LTTE attack on the navy at Delft too is resulting in consequences affecting civilians. All transport to and from the Islands was curtailed throughout Thursday after the attack.A massive search operation was conducted in various parts of the Islands. Delft, Kayts, Velanai, Nainatheevu, Punkudutheevu etc suffered.

Also all fishing has been forbidden until further notice. Again this ban does not apply to Delft alone but to all the Islands as well as areas on the mainland like Gurunagar, Pashaiyoor, Naavanthurai etc. Once again the familiar excuse of tigers masquerading as fisherfolk is being trotted out.But such an excuse is totally wrong because it is widely acknowledged that the tigers came in sea tiger boats.

An unofficial curfew has been imposed on the three Island AGA divisions of Delft, Kayts and Velanai. All transport to Delft has been cut off for the second successive day. There is much concern about the safety of civilians in Delft. Reportedly Neduntheevu residents are being “interrogated” intensively.

The security forces particularly the navy are engaged in these measures in a misguided , vengeful spirit. The reality is that the navy failed miserably in detecting and countering the LTTE sea borne attack. The fault lies within and not outside the navy. Instead of harassing and victimising innocent Tamil civilians and fisherfolk ,the navy would do better to probe its own conduct, identify shortcomings and rectify matters.


transCurrents feedback : editor@transcurrents.com
transCurrents feedback :Contact DBS Jeyaraj : djeyaraj2005@yahoo.com


Top 
  
 
 Post subject: Tale of two wars: Ground battle and media battle
 Post Posted: Sun May 27, 2007 5:32 pm 
Tale of two wars: Ground battle and media battle

Faster than the speed of bullets fired by re-inforcements to re-take the Radar facility, the casualty counts were changing. At one point, officials at the MCNS said sailors who took over the island had seen six bodies of sailors lying in the area. It later rose to seven. Then suddenly apologetic MCNS officials explained they were under orders from top brass at Navy Headquarters to give a lower casualty count. Strange but true that meant some of those found dead had been resurrected by the top brass. They declared only four sailors had died and four more were wounded.

By Iqbal Athas
@ ST / Sunday, May 27, 2007


The island of Delft (Nedun Theevu or Long Island), off the northern Jaffna peninsula, was known centuries ago under Portuguese rule as Cow Island. There were plenty of cattle there. Yet the mortality rate was high because they sometimes fed on the venomous herbs that grew wild.

The Portuguese had a fort there. The ruins are still evident. During that period, they brought some horses into the island. A historian later recorded "multiplying in time produced a certain kind of horses that are very small, but hardy and very fit to travel on stony and rocky grounds."

The descendants of the Portuguese horses, ponies as they call them now, are perhaps the only living remnants of that era that remain in Delft Island. It is 35 square miles (seven miles long and five miles wide). The island is the largest among the seven located off the peninsula. The main occupation for some 6,000 civilians is fishing. Located some 18 nautical miles from the Jaffna peninsula, access is only by boat from the Kurikattuvan jetty in the Kayts island. Another is the Kayts jetty. The area was under the control of the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP). After the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement of February 2002, a Navy detachment was positioned there to supplement a Police Station that existed.

Six months ago, a sub unit of this detachment was located in the southernmost corner of Delft Island to guard a Radar facility. That was to monitor movements of Sea Tigers, the ocean going arm of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It became necessary following reports of increased sea traffic between the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and guerrilla-held Wanni area. The radar is placed near the disused Queen's Tower beacon that existed many years ago.

Last Thursday, Delft Island was world news. Just before crack of dawn, Tiger guerrillas mounted a surprise attack on the sub unit. It came after they had smuggled in weapons and infiltrated the island. Whilst the attack got under way, Sea Tiger boats awaited and later engaged Navy re-inforcements that rushed in. These boats had come from guerrilla bases in Viduthaltivu and Pooneryn. The guerrillas overran the area and held it for three hours. It was only after the crack of dawn that sailors managed to re-capture and restore normalcy. By then, the guerrillas had withdrawn with two .50 calibre guns (point five zero calibre heavy weapon used in many roles including anti-aircraft), two machine guns, one Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher and two T-56 assault rifles among other items. Air Force Mi-24 helicopter gunships joined in the battle and destroyed at least two guerrilla boats.

During that period, another drama was being enacted in Colombo. Officials at the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) had the unenviable task of disseminating information on the incident to the local and foreign media. Faster than the speed of bullets fired by re-inforcements to re-take the Radar facility, the casualty counts were changing. At one point, officials at the MCNS said sailors who took over the island had seen six bodies of sailors lying in the area. It later rose to seven.

Then suddenly apologetic MCNS officials explained they were under orders from top brass at Navy Headquarters to give a lower casualty count. Strange but true that meant some of those found dead had been resurrected by the top brass. They declared only four sailors had died and four more were wounded. Five others had reported to the main Navy detachment in the Delft Island. All others reported missing had also turned up. Besides officials at the MCNS, separate accounts were also being given by a Navy spokesman. It was not so long ago that one such spokesman talked of a Sea Tiger attack on a Navy patrol. It later turned out that the number of Sea Tiger boats he announced as being destroyed far exceeded those engaged in the sea battle.

The Sunday Times learnt from authoritative Navy sources that contrary to claims by the top brass, eight sailors were killed in the incident and three others wounded. The dead sailors are: T. Jayatilleke, K.N. Weerakulasuriya, I.D.U. Silva, R.A. Prasanna, K.S. Weeraratne, W.I.D. Ratnayake, W. Wickremasinghe and W. Pushpakumara. Their last rites are to be accompanied by full Navy honours.

It became clear that Navy top brass were not only directing operations by re-inforcements at Delft Island tasked to re-capture the area overrun by the guerrillas. They were also at the same time engaged in news management to give the Sri Lankan public and the world at large an entirely different picture. This is what prompted me to once observe that there are two separatist wars in Sri Lanka. One is in the theatre of conflict in the North and East. The other is the media release war in Colombo.

Even the Security Forces Headquarters in Jaffna, which is the overall authority for Security Forces deployed in the peninsula, was unable to report to Army Headquarters in Colombo on the casualty count in the Delft incident. Both the Navy and the Air Force in the peninsula come under the operational command of the SFHQ (Jaffna).

It is no secret that co-ordination and co-operation at the highest levels between the Army and the Navy have not been very smooth. This week, Security Forces Commander (Jaffna), Major General G.A. Chandrasiri, the senior most officer in the peninsula, sought a report from the Northern Naval Area Commander, Rear Admiral S.R. Samaratunga. Until yesterday, he had not received the account.

Ironic enough, managing the news has become a distinct characteristic feature of the ongoing undeclared Eelam War IV. The Delft incident is the latest to clearly illustrate this phenomenon. In an era where communications have advanced and the flow of information cannot be forever curtailed, news management by those spearheading the "war on terror" is only bringing the Government's credibility into further question. Apologists may argue it is necessary in order not to demoralize troops. This is nothing more than a myth, for it is troops in the operational areas who learn from the grapevine the exact casualty counts in military encounters. Moreover, to claim that four sailors have died when eight sacrificed their lives is a grave act of injustice by the men who die. Not even in their death is their sacrifice for the nation recognized.

Another equally disturbing factor is the reaction of the public who support the Security Forces and the Police engaged in battles with the Tiger guerrillas. Will not their morale be affected when they learn that some top brass engineer and doctor the news to economise on the truth? Therefore, will not such actions reflect badly on the leadership of the Government? In fact, some of the official claims after military encounters, particularly in a string of battles in the East, come into serious question. Reportage of such claims raises high public expectations but crumble no sooner the truth is discovered. Unlike during the previous phases of the war, there is little or no control by the Ministry of Defence over these matters. The result is news management going on unabated at various levels.

Strange enough they reach levels where the intelligence of the public is insulted by some of the claims. One example is the ease with which some spokesman describe flotilla of guerrilla boats coming into attack Navy patrols. The numbers of the "suicide boats" and the others are frequently spelt out though it is not clear how it is possible to exactly identify the "suicide boats''. They do not carry name boards. It is known that on some occasions the guerrillas have dived into the water after directing a suicide boat to a target. Other times, a single cadre had been deployed. But the boats used in attacks look much the same and any difference is often unnoticeable.


Top 
  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
 
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 

Board index » General Topics » Sri Lanka Latest News


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 2 guests

 
 

 
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: