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Mullaitivu increasingly coming under threat of troops

[DailyNews.lk, Thursday, 8 January 2009 20:27 No Comment]

z_p07-defence2 The troops advanced further south of Palai and were only short of eight Kilometers to link up with the troops in the South of Elephant Pass and take full control of the A-9 road to open gateways to Jaffna peninsula through the land route after the escalation of violence on August 11, 2006 with the LTTE launching a massive assault on the Muhamalai defence line.

 

That will go down in military history of the three decade long war as the first time troops marching from the South linked up with the troops marching from the North on the A-9 road which is the key link between the Jaffna peninsula and the South.

 

The fall of Kilinochchi, the de-facto capital of the LTTE at the hands of the 57 and 58 Divisions presented two options before Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. That is either to give up the armed struggle and surrender to the Security Forces accepting defeat or to continue the armed struggle further until he met his death or arrest at the hands of the Security Forces.

 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his address to the nation soon after the fall of Kilinochchi repeated his appeal to Prabhakaran, to give up arms and enter the path of negotiations without risking innocent lives of Tamil civilians entrapped in the Vanni. Although repeatedly made this appeal to Prabhakaran, his last two appeals came in the form of a warning to the LTTE as it continued to disregard that humane appeal.

The main concern of the President is to get the Tamil civilians freed from the clutches of the LTTE, giving the Tiger cadres also the option of surrendering to the Security Forces as he does not want to see Tamil people suffering due to the ongoing conflict.

 

But, Velupillai Prabhakaran opted to continue fighting against the Security Forces even after the Security Forces made what they described as a ‘day dream’ a reality with the capture of Kilinochchi. However, some pro-LTTE groups continue expressing views that Prabhakaran will rise from the ashes even at the last moment.

 

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Therefore, Velupillai Prabhakaran is very clear in his objective as he wanted to keep these civilians as a human shield to continue his fight until he realises that he had come all the way chasing an illusion.

Finally on Wednesday President Mahinda Rajapaksa took a decision to ban the Tiger outfit for its blatant violation of human rights by harassing the civilian population without allowing them to evade the battlefront which has now been confined to a limited area in the East of A-9 road and West of Mullaitivu.

 

It has been revealed that the LTTE is forcibly keeping civilians in Vishvamadu and Puthukuduiruppu areas disregarding their safety at a time fierce battles are going to erupt in this region with massive amount of troops from eight battlefronts advancing to the centre from various directions.

 

The map illustrated in this page will give a basic idea about the serious threat the civilians have to face in the limited area East of A-9 road if these civilians are not set free by the LTTE before long. As this column repeatedly highlighted, the international community should urge the LTTE either to give up arms or to set free the civilian population under its grip.

 

The decision of the Government came at a time when the Security Forces are maintaining momentum in their advance towards the remaining areas held by the LTTE East of A-9 road without giving them a breathing space or allowing them to put up another barrier to delay the advance of the troops even after the capture of the most prestigious stronghold Kilinochchi.

 

The capture of the Paranthan, by the 58 Division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva once again kept the battlefronts in the North and Vanni on fast track as it marked yet another turning point in the fight against LTTE at the dawn of the Year 2009, which has been announced as the year of eliminating terrorism.

 

It was akin to the turning point the Security Forces attached to 58 Division had with the capture of the Mannar Rice Bowl in the middle of last year which made it possible for the forces to move fast towards Mulangavil taking one township after the other on the Mannar-Pooneryn A-32 road until they came up against the 24 Km long earth bund constructed by the LTTE from Nachchikuda in the Western coast to Iranamadu, South of Kilinochchi.

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Though the Security Forces were delayed for months at this massive earth bund, Security Forces could break the ice with the capture of a section of the earth bund and move forward towards Pooneryn and then towards Paranthan until they came across the final barricade created by the LTTE in the West of Paranthan and Kilinochchi.

 

The capture of the earth bund by the 57 Division and the 58 Division opened the gateways to Paranthan and Kilinochchi. But, the capture of Paranthan came as a surprise for the LTTE disrupting all their battle plans compelling them to withdraw from Kilinochchi in the face of Security Forces advance.

 

The picture given by the LTTE regarding Kilinochchi was entirely false as they did not have any defence system inside Kilinochchi town except small Tiger cadres operating in the town taking the cover of the buildings there. Other than the bunkers constructed for the Tiger leaders to take cover from air strikes and other artillery attacks there were no proper LTTE defences in the centre of Kilinochchi to stop the troops from entering the town.

 

This was very clearly observed by this correspondent during the visit to Kilinochchi soon after it was liberated by the Security Forces last Friday.

 

Therefore, those who describe the capture of Kilinochchi as a ‘Kiss of Death’ can realise how LTTE had misled the whole world by inflating its image as an invincible force.

 

What they could do was to create massive earth bunds in the outskirts of Kilinochchi from the South, West and North West direction to defend Kilinochchi.

 

It was obvious the Security Forces and the LTTE both suffered heavily during the confrontations at this earth bund. But it was due to these sacrifices by the Security Forces, during fierce battles, that they succeeded to take the upper hand and enter the heart of Kilinochchi within the shortest possible time frame after capturing the earth bund.

 

The LTTE had withdrawn from Kilinochchi towards Vishvamadu, Vaddakachchi, Puthukuduiruppu area as they were not left with any other means of defending Kilinochchi which was the identity of the LTTE and the centre which was used by them for their international propaganda.

 

The fall of Paranthan at the dawn of the year 2009 not only precipitated the fall of Kilinochchi but also the fall of the LTTE Jaffna front.

 

The LTTE is going to lose the entire Jaffna peninsula as readers go through this column today, as troops of the 53 Division under the command of Brigadier Kamal Gunaratne and 55 Division under the command of Brigadier Prasanna Silva are due to capture the remaining areas of the Jaffna-Kandy A-9 highway between Muhamalai and Elephant Pass as they took full control of the Pallai town by yesterday morning.

 

The 53 Division and the 55 Division commenced their advance towards the southern part of Jaffna peninsula in the early hours of Tuesday with 58 Division troops consolidating their positions in the Southern part of Elephant Pass after advancing halfway to the isthmus that links the Jaffna peninsula to the mainland by Monday evening.

 

The LTTE had shifted many of their assets in the Jaffna peninsula before the fall of Paranthan as they were aware that they could not defend them once troops started to advance from the North and South simultaneously to Muhamalai defences.

 

Though there were no massive resistance from the LTTE fierce battles erupted in the Muhamalai and Kilali battlefronts on Tuesday as 55 Division under the command of Brigadier Prasanna Silva captured the Tiger defence line by 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday.

 

The 53 Division under the command of Brigadier Kamala Gunaratne had to face comparatively severe resistance from the LTTE and took control of the Kilali and Muhamalai LTTE defences little later than the 55 Division.

 

Ten soldiers sacrificed their lives in this battle and more than 50 soldiers sustained injuries in their bid to capture the Tiger defence line. But many of the casualties were in the P3 category and could be returned to the battlefront after brief treatment.

 

According to battlefront sources 5 and 8 Vijayaba Infantry Regiments attached to the 533 Brigade and 5 Gemunu Watch battalion and I Gajaba Regiment attached to the Air Mobile Brigade at the battlefront from the 53 Division whilst 4 Gemunu Watch, 6 Sri Lanka Light Infantry battalion and 7 and 8 Vijayaba Infantry Regiments attached to the 552 and 553 Brigades of the 55 Division took part in the operation.

With the capture of Kilali and Muhamalai defences troops further consolidated their positions in the Tiger defence line and commenced advancing southwards to Pallai flushing out the Tiger cadres further south.

The LTTE fired mostly mortars towards the advancing troops intermittently firing artillery round from the Champianpattu direction.

 

There was lesser resistance from the LTTE as they advanced towards Pallai and southwards. But the Security Forces faced the most unfortunate incident yesterday as the Commanding Officer of the 5 Gemunu Watch, attached to the Air Mobile Brigade of the 53 Division was killed after having caught in a LTTE trap as he was walking in to Pulopalai area towards the Jaffna lagoon. Lt. Colonel Nalinda Kumarasinghe, RWP, RSP was the most senior Army Officer to die in the battlefront from the commencement of the Mavil Aru operation in June, 2006.

 

The signal operator went along with him also got caught in the trapping. It was unfortunate to lose a senior officer in the rank of Lt. Colonel at a time Security Forces are fast completing their mission of eliminating terrorism form the Sri Lankan soil.

 

Once the troops of the 53 Division and 55 Division reached Iyakachchi the key junction which provides water for the Elephant Pass troops can easily control the Tiger movements in the Jaffna peninsula. The Nagarkovil defence line will automatically come under troops control once they reach Iyakachchi junction cutting off the links they had with Mullaitivu front through Champianpattu in Eastern coast of the Jaffna peninsula.

As troops of the 53 Division and 55 Division are marching towards the South, troops of the 57 and 58 Divisions are fast moving in the eastern direction from Paranthan and Kilinochchi.

 

The 58 Division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva has marched towards Murisamudai area five Kilometres West of Paranthan and were in full control of the area. Murisamudai was the first defence line LTTE had after the Paranthan and will open gateways to Puthukuduiruppu and towards the Eastern seas from two directions.

 

Once troops reached another five to six Kilometres to the Eastern beach front they can easily cut off the LTTE links between Jaffna and Mullaitivu fronts. A week after the fall of Kilinochchi the Tiger stronghold Mullaitivu too is increasingly coming under the threat of the Security Forces attached to the 59 Division under the command of Brigadier Nandana Udawatta as they are fast advancing to the Western edge of the Mullaitivu town.

 

By yesterday troops attached to 593 Division have taken control of famous Vatrapalai Amman Kovil in the West of Nandikadal lagoon in the West of Mullaitivu. Vatrapalai Amman Kovil is very famous among Hindus and is visited by many Hindus during the festive season. Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran also used to visit this temple, according to sources.

 

The LTTE reportedly have used one of their light aircraft to throw flowers into one of the religious ceremonies held at this famous Hindu temple.

 

The 7 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Chaminda Lamahewa took control of this Hindu Kovil after crossing the massive open area.

 

According to battlefront sources 59 Division is only a few hundred metres away from the Tiger airstrip in Mulliyawali which has been frequently used by the LTTE to land their light aircraft.

 

The troops operating in the 59 Division will get one of their vital supply routes open to the Mullaitivu front with the troops of the Task Force IV under the command of Colonel Nishantha Wanniarachchi linking up with the 59 Division along the A-34 road. The opening of A-34 road upto South West of Mullaitivu will definitely put the Security Forces in a much advantageous position.

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