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 Post subject: Eelam War IV
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 2:20 am 
Eelam War IV - The Final Assault

Eelam War III || Eelam War II || Eelam War I

Many diplomats and analysts believe that the war against terrorism should have been commenced when Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated. The level of patience of the government exceeded only when the LTTE made an aborted attempt to take the life of Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka on April 25, 2006 inside the Army Headquarters. No guns were pointed at any of the LTTE hideouts in the North East until they made this wrong move on April 25. But this air strikes on Sampur were not the start of the war. Again it was the LTTE which dragged this Government into Eelam war IV, with the closure of the Mavil Aru anicut. The massacre in Kebithigollewa, the attempts to attack unarmed troops carrying vessels Green Ocean and Jet Liner, the incident at Digampatana may fill hundreds gaps to indicate why the Government had to respond militarily towards the terror acts of the LTTE. These facts have been conveniently forgotten by the critics who so harshly criticize Sri Lankan government, for its militaristic approach to tame the LTTE in their bid to see an end to the North East problem.

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@ LL /RH 2007-2008

2002 cease fire agreement (CFA)

Following the attacks of 9/11, the LTTE began to declare their willingness to explore measures for a peaceful settlement to the conflict. The LTTE are believed to have taken this action after fear of international pressure and even direct US support of the Sri Lankan Government as part of the War on Terror. The general election of Sri Lanka, held on December 5, 2001 saw a sweeping victory for the United National Front, led by Ranil Wickremasinghe, who campaigned on a pro-peace platform and pledged to find a negotiated settlement to the conflict. On December 19, the LTTE announced a 30 day ceasefire with the Sri Lankan government and pledged to halt all attacks against government forces. The new government welcomed the move, and reciprocated it 2 days later, announcing a month long ceasefire and agreeing to lift a long standing economic embargo on rebel-held territory.

The two sides formalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on February 22, 2002 and signed a permanent ceasefire agreement (CFA). Norway was named mediator, and it was decided that they, together with the other Nordic countries, monitor the ceasefire through a committee of experts named the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. In August, the government agreed to lift the ban on the LTTE and paved the way for the resumption of direct negotiations with the LTTE.

The much anticipated peace talks began in Phuket, Thailand on the September 16 and further rounds followed in Phuket, Norway and Germany. During the talks, both sides agreed to the principle of a federal solution and the Tigers drooped their long standing demand for separate state.

Following the elections of 2001, for the first time in Sri Lanka's history, the President and Prime Minister were of two different parties. This co-habitation was extremely uneasy, especially since Prime Minister Wickremasinghe and the UNP favoured a federal solution to the conflict, while President Kumaratunga's party and other Sinhala Nationalist groups allied to her opposed one as they did not trust the LTTE.

The talks broke down on April 21, 2003 when the Tamil Tigers announced they were suspending them due to their "displeasure" at the handling of some "critical issues".

However the LTTE maintained it was committed to a settlement to the two-decade conflict, but stated that progress had to be made on the ground before the settlement proceeded. On October 31, the LTTE issued its own peace proposal, calling for an Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA). The ISGA would be controlled by the LTTE and would have broad powers in the north and east. This provoked a strong protest in the South, who accused Premier Wickremasinghe of handing the North and East to the LTTE.

Under pressure to take action, Kumaratunga declared a state of emergency and took over three key government ministries from UNP. She then formed an alliance with the JVP, called the United People's Freedom Alliance, opposed to the ISGA and called for fresh elections. The elections, held on April 8, 2004, resulted in victory for UPFA with Mahinda Rajapakse appointed as Prime Minister. Initial fears of a resumption of the conflict were proved unfounded when the new government expressed its desire to continue the peace process and find a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

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Split of the LTTE

Meanwhile, there was a major fracturing between its northern and eastern wings of the LTTE. Colonel Karuna, the Eastern commander of the LTTE and one of Prabakaran's trusted lieutenants pulled 5,000 eastern troops out of the LTTE, claiming insufficient resources and power were being given to Tamils of the eastern part of the island. It was the biggest expression of dissension in the history of the LTTE and a civil war within the LTTE seemed imminent. After the election, brief fighting south of Trincomalee led to a rapid retreat and capitulation of the Karuna group, their leaders eventually going into hiding including Karuna himself, who was helped by a ruling Muslim politician to escape. However the "Karuna faction" maintains a significant presence in the East and continues to launch attacks against the LTTE. The LTTE accuses the army of covertly backing the breakaway group, which subsequently formed a political party named the TamilEela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) and hopes to contest in future elections.

The ceasefire largely held through all this turmoil, although the situation was complicated by allegations that both sides were carrying out covert operations against each other. The government claimed that the LTTE was killing political opponents and government intelligence officers, while the rebels accused the government of supporting paramilitary groups against them, especially the Karuna group.

Tsunami and aftermath

On December 26, 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami hit Sri Lanka, killing more than 30,000 people, and leaving many more homeless. Aid poured in from donor countries, but disagreements arose instantly over how it should be distributed to the Tamil regions under LTTE control. By June 24, the government and LTTE agreed on the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS), but it received sharp criticism from Muslims and from the JVP, who left the government in protest. President Kumaratunga eventually scrapped P-TOMS.

Then Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, a Tamil who was highly respected by foreign diplomats and who had been sharply critical of the LTTE, was assassinated at his home on August 12, 2006, by an LTTE sniper. His assassination led to the marginalization of the LTTE from the international community, and is thought to be the instance when the LTTE lost all sympathy it enjoyed in the eyes of foreign nations.

The main candidates for the Presidential election, which was held in November 2006, were former Prime Minister Wickremasinghe, the UNF candidate and who advocated the reopening of talks with the LTTE and the UPFA candidate, Prime Minister Rajapaksa who called for a tougher line against the LTTE and a renegotiation of the ceasefire. The LTTE openly called for a boycott of the election by the Tamils, but, believing the Tamils were getting ready to vote in large numbers, the LTTE used violence and intimidation to prevent Tamils from voting. Many of them were expected to vote for Wickremasinghe, and the loss of their votes proved fatal to his chances as Rajapakse achieved a narrow win. Despite being seen as a hardliner, Rajapaksa promised to pursue peace and restart talks with the rebels.


Resumption of hostilities

Following the election, the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran stated in his annual address that the Tigers would "renew their struggle" in 2006 if the government did not take serious moves toward peace. Just days after Prabhakaran's speech, a new round of violence erupted. Beginning in December 2005, there was increased violence, including Claymore mine attacks which killed 150 government troops, clashes between the Sea Tigers and the Sri Lanka navy, and the killings of sympathizers on both sides including Taraki Sivaram, a journalist, and Joseph Pararajasingham, a pro-LTTE MP. This violence left around 200 people dead.

The LTTE which engaged in a stealth war against the Security Forces under the cover of the Ceasefire Agreement, on December 04, 2005 came out with their first claymore attack targeting the Security Forces in Jaffna. Ten soldiers attached to the 51-1 Brigade at Atchuveli were killed as the tractor they were travelling in got caught to a claymore mine near Kondavil.

There was no apparent reason from the side of the LTTE to launch such an attack targeting the Security Forces since Prabhakaran in his so-called annual speech , made on November 27, 2005 had already conveyed the message that the LTTE was willing to give a reasonable time frame for President Rajapaksa to make peace initiatives to revive the faltering peace process.

Just 48 hours after the first incident in Kondavil the LTTE again came out almost with an identical one killing at least seven soldiers at Irupalai, five Kilometres, North East of Jaffna. The incident took place as Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka was assuming duties at the Army Headquarters in Colombo.

The incidents that followed were basically provocative acts of the LTTE who underestimated the level of patience of the Rajapaksa administration and also the level of commitment shown towards the continuation of the peace process.

In light of this violence, the co-chairs of the Tokyo Donor conference called on both parties to return to the negotiating table. The co-chairs — the United States in particular — were heavily critical of the violence perpetrated by the LTTE. US State Department officials, as well as the US ambassador to Sri Lanka, gave warnings to the Tigers claiming a return to hostilities would mean that the Tigers would face a "more capable and more determined" Sri Lankan military.

In a last-minute effort to salvage an agreement between the parties, the Norwegian special envoy Erik Solheim and the LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham arrived in the island. The parties severely disagreed on the location of the talks; however, continued efforts produced a breakthrough when both parties agreed on February 7, 2006, that new talks could be held in Geneva, Switzerland on February 22 and February 23. These talks were reported to have gone "above expectations", with both the government and the LTTE agreeing to curb the violence and to hold further talks on April 19-21.

However in the meantime, LTTE resumed attacks against the military in April beginning with a Claymore anti-personnel mine attack on military vehicles which killed 10 navy sailors on April 11th. The following day, coordinated bombings by rebels and rioting in the north-eastern part of the country left 16 dead. First, a Claymore anti-personnel mine exploded in Trincomalee, killing two policemen in their vehicle. Another blast, set off in a crowded vegetable market, killed one soldier and some civilians. Ensuing rioting by civilians left more than a dozen dead. Responsibility for these attacks was claimed by an organisation called the Upsurging People's Force, which the military accused of being a front for the LTTE.

In light of this violence, the LTTE called for a postponement of the Geneva talks until April 24-25, and the government initially agreed to this. Following negotiations, both the government and the rebels agreed to have a civilian vessel transport the regional LTTE leaders with international truce monitors on April 16, which involved crossing government-controlled territory. However, the climate shifted drastically when the Tamil Tigers canceled the meeting, claiming not to have agreed to a naval escort. According to the SLMM, the Tamil rebels had previously agreed to the escort. This led to Helen Olafsdottir, spokesperson for the SLMM saying "It was part of the agreement. The rebels should have read the clauses carefully. We are frustrated".

On April 20, 2006, the LTTE officially pulled out of peace talks indefinitely. While they stated that transportation issues had prevented them from meeting their regional leaders, some analysts and the international community held a deep skepticism, seeing the transportation issue as a delaying tactic by the LTTE in order to avoid attending peace talks in Geneva.

Violence continued to spiral and on April 23, 2006, six Sinhalese rice farmers were massacred in their paddy fields by suspected LTTE cadres in the Trincomalee district.[54] The following day, two suspected Tamil Tiger rebels were shot dead in Batticaloa when caught planting mines after rebels reportedly hacked a young mother to death and kidnapped her infant.

International condemnation against the LTTE skyrocketed following the attempted assassination of the commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka by a pregnant LTTE Black Tiger suicide bomber Anoja Kugenthirasah, who blew herself up at the Sri Lankan Army headquarters in the capital, Colombo. Lt. Gen. Fonseka and twenty-seven others were injured, while ten people were killed in the attack. For the first time since the 2001 ceasefire, the Sri Lanka Air Force carried out aerial assaults on rebel positions in the north-eastern part of the island nation in retaliation for the attack.

This attack, along with the assassination of Lakshman Kadiragama a year earlier and an unsuccessful attack against a naval vessel carrying 710 unarmed security force personnel on holiday, proved the catalysts as the European Union decided to proscribe the LTTE as a terrorist organisation on May 19, 2006. It resulted in the freezing of LTTE assets in the member nations of the EU, and put an end to its efforts to raise funds its terror campaign in Sri Lanka. In a statement, the European Parliament said that the LTTE did not represent all the Tamils and called on it to "allow for political pluralism and alternate democratic voices in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka".

Many diplomats and also analysts believed that the war against terrorism should have been commenced when Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated.

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As north and east of the country continued to be rocked by attacks, new talks were scheduled in Oslo, Norway, between June 8-9. Delegations from both sides arrived in Oslo, but the talks were canceled when the LTTE refused to meet directly with the government delegation claiming its fighters were not been allowed safe passage to travel to the talks. Norwegian mediator Erik Solheim told journalists that the LTTE should take direct responsibility for the collapse of the talks.

Further violence followed, including the Kebithigollewa massacre on June 15, 2006 in which the LTTE attacked a bus killing at least 64 Sinhalese civilians and prompting more air strikes by the Air Force, and the assassination of Sri Lankas third highest-ranking army officer and Deputy Chief of Staff General Parami Kulatunga on June 26 by an LTTE suicide bomber. These events led the SLMM to question whether a ceasefire could still be said to exist. However most analysts continued to believe that the return to full-scale war was unlikely and the "low-intensity conflict" would continue.


Mavil Aru Water dispute

A new crisis leading to the first large-scale fighting since signing of the ceasefire occurred when the LTTE closed the sluice gates of the Mavil Aru reservoir on July 21 and cut the water supply to 15,000 villages in government controlled areas. After initial negotiations and efforts by the SLMM to open the gates failed, the Air Force attacked LTTE positions on July 26, and ground troops began an operation to open the gate.

The sluice gates were eventually reopened on August 8 by government forces. The militarylaunched fresh attacks on LTTE positions around the reservoir. Eventually, following heavy fighting with the rebels, government troops gained full control of the Mavil Aru reservoir on August 15.

LTTE offensives in Muttur and Jaffna

As fierce fighting was ongoing in the vicinity of Mavil Aru, the violence spread to Trincomalee, where the LTTE launched a vicious attack on a crucial Sri Lanka Navy base, and to the strategic government controlled coastal town of Muttur in early August, resulting in the deaths of at least 30 civilians and displacing 25,000 residents of the area. The clashes erupted on August 2, 2006 when the LTTE launched a heavy artillery attack on Mutturand then moved in, gaining control of some parts of the town.[69] The military retaliated, and reestablished full control over the town by August 5, killing over 150 LTTE cadres in heavy fighting.

Meanwhile, in the north of the country, some of the bloodiest fighting since 2001 took place after the LTTE launched massive attacks on Sri Lanka Army defence lines in the Jaffna peninsula on August 11. The LTTE used a force of 400 to 500 fighters in the attacks which consisted of land and amphibious assaults, and also fired a barrage of artillery at government positions, including the key military airbase at Palaly. Initially, the Tigers broke through army defense lines around Muhamalai, and advanced further north, but they were halted after 10 hours of fierce fighting. Isolated battles continued over the next few days, but the LTTE was forced to give up its offensive due to heavy casualties. The LTTE is estimated to have lost over 250 cadres in the operation, while 90 Sri Lankan soldiers and sailors were also killed.

Fall of Sampur

Following the clashes in Mavil Aru and Muttur, the LTTE had intensified attacks targeting the naval base in Trincomalee. On August 28, the Sri Lankan military launched an assault to retake the LTTE camps in Sampur and the adjoining Kaddaiparichchan and Thoppur areas. This led the LTTE to declare that if the offensive continued, the ceasefire would be officially over. After steady progress, Sri Lankan security forces led by Brigade Commander Sarath Wijesinghe re-captured Sampur from the LTTE on September 4, and began to establish military bases there, as the LTTE admitted defeat and stated their cadres "withdrew" from the strategically important town. It marked the first significant territorial change of hands since the signing of the ceasefire agreement in 2002. The Sri Lankan Military estimated that 33 personnel were killed in the offensive, along with over 200 LTTE cadres.

Muhamalai and Habarana

The LTTE struck back in October. First, they killed nearly 130 soldiers in a fierce battle at Muhamalai, the crossing-point between government and LTTE controlled area in the north of the country. Just days later, a suspected LTTE suicide bomber struck a naval convoy in Habarana, in the center of the country killing about 100 unarmed sailors who were returning home on leave. It was the deadliest suicide attack in the history of the conflict. Two days later, LTTE Sea Tiger cadres launched an attack against the Dakshina naval base in the sothern port city of Galle. It was the farthest south any major LTTE attack had taken place, and involved 15 LTTE cadres who arrived in five suicide boats. The attack was repulsed by the government, and the damage to the naval base was minimum. All 15 LTTE suicide cadres are believed to have died in the attack, along with one Sri Lanka Navy sailor.

Despite these incidents, both parties agreed to unconditionally attend peace talks in Geneva on October 28-29. However the peace talks broke down due to disagreements over the reopening of the key A9 highway, which is the link between Jaffna and government controlled areas in the south. While the LTTE wanted the highway, which was closed following fierce battles in August, to be reopened, the government refused, stating the LTTE would use it to collect tax from people passing through and would use it to launch further offenses against government troops.

Following the dawn of the new year, suspected LTTE cadres carried out two bus bombings in the south of the country, killing 21 civilians. News reports stated that the attacks bore all the hallmarks of an LTTE attackThe Sri Lankan government condemned the attacks and blamed the LTTE for carrying them out, although the LTTE denied any involvement. Iqbal Athas, an analyst for Jane's Defence Weekly commented that the LTTE's targeting of civilians was a cause for concern, and that further attacks against civilians couldn't be ruled out. Other analysts too expressed fears that LTTE attacks, which had largely been confined to military and political targets during the ceasefire period, may now increasingly target civilians as in earlier stages of a conflict.

Liberation of the Eastern Province

The Army began an offensive against the LTTE on December 8, 2006 in the Batticoloa district with the objective of taking Vakarai, the principle stronghold of the LTTE in the East. Over the next few weeks, an estimated 20,000 civilians fled from Vakarai to Government controlled areas fearing the imminent assault. The Army launched a new offensive in mid January, and Vakarai fell to the advancing troops on January 19, 2007.

Operation Definite Victory

A military operation was launched by Sri Lankan Special Task Force commandos on January 04, 2007 to evict LTTE rebels from the Kanchikudichcharu and Thoppigala regions of the Ampara District of Sri Lanka. Elite police commandos were able to overrun twenty (20) rebel camps including the Stanley Base, which was the main LTTE camp in the Amparai District and a regional intelligence and supply camp, Bagayadi Base, where local and foreign foodstuffs and sanitary material was stored, Janak Base, which made clothing identical to Sri Lanka Army and Special Task Force uniforms, Jeewan Base, which was another supply camp from which the STF was able to recover four vehicles and the Diana Base where LTTE leaders meet. A statement issued by the ministry of defence said the camp was furnished with luxury items.

After the fall of Stanley Base, STF troops were able to find an explosive laden truck and a motor cycle that the rebels were planning to use to carry out suicide attacks in the capital of Colombo. STF recoverd a large quantity of arms and ammunition, coffins, a large number of anti-personnel mines, satellite and radio receivers, global positioning systems, power generators, boats with name and logo of the NGO "Save the Children", tents with the logo of "UNHCR" and a fully equipped hospital donated to the militants by a Dutch INGO named ZOA Refugee Care. This NGO donated hospital is named by the Tigers as Thileepan Memorial Hospital. STF also said that they also found a water tanker truck donated by, the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) which is a affiliated organization of the LTTE.

The STF offensive in the Kanchikudichchiaru forest reserve has brought to light many illegal activities of the LTTE, which include engaging in illegal timber, ivory, torture chambers, lockups, and cannabis trade. The STF had come across a large plantation of cannabis grown by the LTTE deep inside the Kanchikudichchiaru forest reserve. STF troops also detected carcasses of elephants dumped in swamps which indicate that they may have been killed for their tusks. They reported torture chambers allegedly used by Tamil Tigers to punish escaping rebels and informers, including women fighters. LTTE spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan denied the allegations. The Associated Press reported that the military had "provided no proof" of the claims, and that the SLMM monitors had not visited the area.

As a result of this mission STF troops were able to kill four rebels. The STF commented that the militants were fleeing from the area without retaliating against their troops.The government called for the surrender of fleeing LTTE cadres and offered overseas jobs after a rehabilitation programme.

In April 2007, the Sri lnkan troops captured the strategic A5 highway which was under LTTE control for ther last 15 years. The LTTE's already diminishing prescence in the east was reduced to a mere 140 square kilometres of jungle land in Thoppigala.

By June 2007, The troops had reached the final stage of the Thoppigala battle which has been fought since February 25, in different stages in the West and South of Batticaloa. On 10th of June 2007 SL army troops overran four LTTE camps in Pankudaweli North, and Naarakmulla South, Military sources said. Military Spokesman Brigadier Prasad Smarasinghe said, that four LTTE camps at, Ibbanvila, Akkarathivu, Mawadi-ode, and Veppanveli have been captured by SL Army troops.

The jubilant troops led by the 2nd Commando Regiment made their way to Baron's Cap on Wednesday, July 11, 2007, morning to reach their final target in the East, ending their month long mission in the Thoppigala jungles. Troops of the 2 and 3 Commando Regiments, 6,7,8 and 9 battalions of the Gemunu Watch, 1 Sinha Regiment, 10 Gajaba Regiment, Engineering Regiment Armoured Corps and Artillery Regiment contributed to the victory in Thoppigala and completed their mission in the East. The victory marks the liberation of Thoppigala after 14 years of Tiger dominance which fell into the hands of the LTTE in 1995 when troops were withdrawn from the area for the Riviresa operation in Jaffna.

The commemoration of the military defeat of the LTTE, in Eastern province done by the morning of July 19, 2007. The ceremony known as "New Dawn to the East " and it took place in the country's main city of Colombo around Independent Square where passes the military parade.


To be edited....

SLAF and Air-Tigers

The war took on an added dimension when the LTTE Air Tigers bombed Katunayake airbase on March 26th, 2007, the first rebel air attack without external assistance in history.

Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran who always issues death warrants on the lives of other people, for the first time sniffed death on November 26, 2007 when the SLAF carried out yet another air raid targeting him.

The SLAF received reliable information about four to five locations where Tiger leader Prabhakaran was moving on his birthday.

The MiGs and Kfirs that went into action took a precise target north of Kilinochchi in Jayanthinagar around 5.25 p.m. on November 25. They carried out the air raid using a increased number of bombs sufficient to destroy the type of hard bunker where Tiger leader Prabhakaran usually hides.

The pilots who carried out the task observed that anti air craft guns at the location were activated once the target was hit precisely. That confirmed that the Tiger leader was definitely there at the time of the air raid.

The Tiger leader has around 200 guards around him all the time. The SLAF claimed that 116 of Prabhakaran's bodyguards also perished in the air raid. Though there was no intelligence report about the exact damages caused due to the air raid the SLAF observed that the area was completely sealed off by the LTTE after the air raid and continued another air raid on the same target on November 28 too. According to information available the LTTE removed rubble from the location to save the life of Prabhakaran who had been trapped inside a destroyed bunker.



Sea battles

Throughout Eelam War IV, countless battles have taken place on the sea. The Sea Tigers have sunk several Sri Lankan Navy vessels, while the GoSL in turn destroyed several suspected LTTE gunrunning ships.

Wanni liberation
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Sri Lanka reached a golden milestone in world military history when it became the first ever country to eradicate terrorism. This historic feat by Sri Lanka’s valiant Security Forces is even more creditable and significant, especially since the LTTE was the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world.It was the dedication, devotion and immense sacrifices of our gallant Security Forces which paved the way for the most cherished moment in modern Sri Lankan history. It was the unwavering bravery of our Security Forces and the correct military and political leadership that were effectively combined to demolish the LTTE’s dream of a separate state.

Read Related Postings:
:arrow: Battle for Thoppigala - 2007
:arrow: Operation Liberation Sampur (Sampoor) - 2006
:arrow: Operation Definite Victory (Niyathai Jaya) - STF - 2007
:arrow: Battle for Vakarai - 2007
:arrow: Sri Lanka's foreign minister assassinated


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