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All divisions heading to Mullaitivu

[DailyMirror, Thursday, 15 January 2009 20:00 No Comment]

Defeated LTTE cadres withdraw further

fight-in-sri-lanka_26 The Liberation Tigers Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fast losing the areas they once occupied are withdrawing further interior towards Mullaitivu area. This is the last stronghold of the LTTE and the Sri Lanka Army has been able to restrict the Tigers to a 30 X 20 kilometre land stretch in the north eastern area of the country.

Commencing with capturing of Mavil Aru, after years of fierce battles  the troops have  now been able to gain control of almost all LTTE-held areas except Mullaitivu and its suburbs.On Wednesday the army scored yet another decisive victory over the LTTE  when they captured the  well-known LTTE runway in Iranamadu, which is considered  the largest air strip  belonging to the Tamil Tigers. The army also succeeded in  capturing the last LTTE area – Chundikulam- in the Jaffna Peninsula.

 

The capture of the  Iranamadu main LTTE runway is a major achievement of the Army, since  the LTTE’s light air craft used this runway to conduct several air raids against the country’s economic targets and also  military targets on several occasions.

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The Sri Lanka Air Force jets in earlier instances bombed and heavily damaged the runway on  several occasions, but the LTTE always managed to repair it after almost every bombing.

 

Soldiers of the 632 Brigade led by Lt. Col SubhasanaWelikala captured the area by Wednesday afternoon. 18 Vijayaba Regiment and 20 Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment took part in this operation. Clearing operations are yet underway as the LTTE had heavily mined the area before they fled.

 

Protected by several fences, the area had been banned for civilians and was called as a high security zone.

The LTTE had constructed a 1.2 kilometre runway in Iranamadu, capable of even landing a C-130 Hercules transport plane with 15 tons of logistics. Iranamadu is located in the Kilinochchi district west of the A-9 Jaffna-Kandy highway and on the old Jaffna-Kandy road.

 

In November, 2003 an Sri Lanka Air Force Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for the first time acquired video footage of a considerable clearing in the jungle east of Iranamadu. Later in February, 2004 Air force reconnaissance observed construction work on a runway at this cleared site recommence. Again in September in the same year, the new runway had been paved and  threshold and centreline markings added. It is 1.2 kilometers long.

 

The runway is situated in the thick jungle with a massive bunker line and a trench line around the complex  fortified with mine fields and booby traps. A hangar has been found in the complex and it is said that the fleeing LTTE cadres have damaged the complex.

 

Earlier, the military captured the second runway in the Iranamadu area, located some seven kilomtres south of the main runway.

 

On Saturday Troops of Army 59 Division led by Brigadier Nandana Udawatte captured the fourth air strip of the LTTE from Puthukuirrippu, located in thick Mullaittivu jungle, about 5km west of Nanthikandal lagoon.

 

Infantrymen of 9 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (SLSR) led by Lieutenant Colonel Janaka Ariyaratne were the first to enter the airstrip. The airstrip is built with a tarmac about  a kilomtre long and 20m wide. The area was heavily guarded by the LTTE with a barbed wire fence built  at a distance of 300m ,around the air strip. The two armour plated hangars and several other huts were also found.

 

From the runway, there was a track to tow the air craft to the hangars, that was  protected by containers filled with sand and concrete. The hangars were covered with camouflage cloth, so that no-one could identify it  from the skies. Protected with four barb wire lines, the area had been  prohibited  for civilians and had    named the road leading to the runway as ‘Air port road’.

 

Jaffna Peninsula completely secured

The army on Wednesday completed the capture of the entire Jaffna peninsula when  they over ran Chundikulam, north of Chalai sea Tiger base.

 

The 55 Division led by Brigadier Prasanna Silva marching towards Mullaitivu marked the complete elimination of Tigers writ over the peninsula.

 

The strip centred Chundikulam, a tiny township between Vettaleikerni and Chalai has been used by LTTE for their sea Tiger operations. Following this capture troops were able to locate a fleet of 125 boats belonging to the Sea Tigers from Chundikulam area which  points to the fact that the entire coastal area between Chundikulam and Muhamalai on the eastern coast has been extensively utilized by Sea Tigers for their clandestine operations including the smuggling of arms and ammunition, transport of Sea Tigers and various other terrorist operations.

 

The 55 Division troops also found the LTTE had left behind two large lorries, five tractors, one earth moving back hoe  vehicle, four hundred anti personnel mines, forty anti tank mines ,booby traps and one 100 KV power generator. A senior LTTE Sea Tiger leader identified as "Lieutenant Colonel Thiru" was killed along with several others in this attack.

 

The fall of Chundikulam meant that Tiger terrorists have been forced to operate only in the seas surrounding Mullaitivu.

 

With the military closing in on  the LTTE last stronghold in Mullaitivu, the operating areas of the LTTE is getting smaller. However some tens of thousands of civilians are being held  by the Tamil Tigers in order to use them as human shields. But several thousands of people have managed to escape from the control of the Tigers due to intensified fighting during the last few weeks and reached cleared areas seeking government protection. The latest and biggest ever recorded exodus of civilians within a matter of twelve hours took place  early Wednesday as 790 trapped civilians, reached cleared areas under 58 and 55 Divisions in Kilinochchi and Jaffna districts.

 

One group of these civilians including eighteen males, fifteen females and fourteen children has reached Thimilamadam area on a boat. Another 275 more civilians in three groups have reached  different locations of the same 58 Division troops. This group consisted of one hundred and four males, one hundred and five females and sixty six children.

 

Meanwhile four hundred and seventy four civilians including one hundred and forty two males, one hundred and forty four females and one hundred and eighty eight children reached Kevil in the Jaffna peninsula.

It is now clear that the LTTE’s fighting capacity is in tatters. And the LTTE would do whatever harm in order to survive . The government should somehow take out the trapped civilians from the Wanni as with the reduction of  the LTTE activities in the area, the troops would be unable to use their fire power to attack the remaining LTTE cadres due to the civilian presence. If the civilians get injured or harmed  it would be major damage for the military as the LTTE would use the incidents for their  advantage.

 

If such an incident takes place, neigbouring India, with pressure from Tamil Nadu politicians who demanded that the Sri Lanka government  stop the military operation, would  use the opportunity to intervene. But before that situation arises  the Sri Lanka government should ask the Indian government to demand the LTTE to release those trapped civilians especially if India  is so much concerned  about the safety of the Sri Lankan Tamils trapped in Wanni.

 

At the same time the Sri Lanka government should ask the international community to put pressure on the LTTE to release civilians.The government also should take action to provide all facilities to those who are coming from the Wanni and launch  a psycho- social  operation in order to get more civilians out of the grip of the LTTE .

 

It is learnt that with the arrival of a large number of civilians some Internally Displaced People from Wanni are not properly treated due to logistical difficulties. In order to solve this problem a proper mechanism to treat people should be adopted with the participation of all concerned ministries.In the meantime, the  LTTE  is attempting to keep the remaining 20 kilomtres long sea belt under them in order to have an escape route when the troops reach Mullaitivu. It is learnt that the LTTE Leader V. Prabhakaran is planning to escape through this sea belt  possibly to India or a African country.

 

However, the Sri Lanka Navy said that it has been put on alert to avert any attempt at escape by Prabhakaran using  the sea.

 

They said that fast attack craft, speed boats, radars and other equipment are keeping watch throughout 24 hours and the naval craft have been placed in four rings within 25 nautical miles from the Mullaitivu coast. The naval blockade has been imposed around the Mullaitivu coast , the only remaining hideout of the Tamil Tigers.

 

All divisions heading to Mullaitivu

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Meanwhile, 58 Division operating on the A-35 road (Paranthan – Mullaitivu) on the West- East axis has reached the outskirts of Dharmapuram approximately 13Km from Paranthan. Dharmapuram is one of the main LTTE strong holds before Mullaitivu. Compared to other Divisions,the  58 Division was facing lesser  resistance from the rebels.

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