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Sunday, 9 November 2008

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LTTE in total disarray as troops reach Pooneryn

* Troops on verge of opening land route to Jaffna

* LTTE making use of entrapped civilians as combatants to strengthen their depleting ranks

* Tigers lose control over the Western coast

* Task Force III begins offensive ops


by Ranil WIJAYAPALA

The continued advance of the troops from various directions, to the North from the Western edge of the Kilinochchi District, from the Western coast depriving almost the entire coast to the LTTE and from the West of A-9 road towards Kilinochchi has put the LTTE in one of the most baffling situations this week in selecting their priorities.

The depleting strength, and the lack of leadership has brought disastrous consequences for the LTTE in facing the advancing troops, as many of the Tiger cadres lacked knowledge on what is going on in the battle front and were not aware of the presence of the troops as almost all their major defence lines which gave some sort of idea about the areas under their control, have been captured by the troops by this time.

If the true picture is given about the situation, according to ground troops, the LTTE has once again switched to creating human shields in Wanni pumping civilians undergone weapon training to the front lines keeping them completely under darkness about what is going on in the battlefront.

So, troops operating in some areas close to Mankulam have been confronting a section of armed cadres manning bunker lines after being dumped by the LTTE apparently after giving them only basic weapon training. There is no distinction between these cadres and the civilians once their weapons are removed from them if they get killed in confrontations with the Security Forces.

What LTTE is trying at this moment is to make use of the civilian population entrapped in Wanni to achieve multiple objectives. They can deploy these civilians to defend their forward defence lines in Mankulam and in the areas close to A-9 road whilst deploying their hardcore cadres to confront the troops where there are no major defence lines.

On the other hand, they can put the blame on the Security Forces after categorizing these cadres as civilians once they got killed in confrontations. Therefore, the situation has prompted the relevant authorities to think twice about the civilian population now being fed by the government after sending them food and other essential items in UN convoys as their destiny is not clear deep inside the uncleared areas in Wanni.

The international community which is very much concerned about the plight of these civilians, should seriously consider as to whether they should be kept under Tiger control and prey them to this ruthless terror outfit or to put pressure on the LTTE to let the civilians go out of these conflict affected areas for their own safety without becoming a human shields created by the LTTE.

They should be aware of the fact that the LTTE as the most ruthless terror outfit in the world will not spare a single civilian life to defend themselves from the advancing troops history itself proves the fact that they have no regard for the humanity when it comes to their survival.

This situation has to be taken very seriously, as the Wanni liberation is reaching one of the most decisive phases in the coming week in which the LTTE will be left with no other option but to accept their humiliating defeat at the hands of the Security Forces.

So, time is rife to take precautionary measures to make sure that the LTTE will not make use of the civilian population as a shield to defend themselves from the advancing troops.

The coming week is set to become one of the most decisive periods as the LTTE is going to lose the control over the Western coast in the coming few days with the speedy advance of the 58 Division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva towards Pooneryn.

The advance of the troops of the 58 Division redoubled within the past week, as they could commit its entire strength towards the Northern front after they fully captured the Tiger defence line in Nachchikuda.

Their march from the Mannar Rice Bowl along the Western coast has brought positive results to the overall military plan of the Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka to defeat the LTTE in Wanni and the Northern front.

What is a most surprising factor for the LTTE is that they never expected the troops to advance this much of a distance from the South to reach Pooneryn which is only 10 to 12 Km short of the present defence line of the 58 Division.

By yesterday the 58 Division troops cut off the links of the LTTE cadres operating in the Vallaipadu, Kiranchi, Devilís Point and Palavi areas with Pooneryn after cutting off the last land route they used to keep ground contacts with Pooneryn. With this move, an area exceeding hundred square kilometres located in the West of A-32 road between 16th mile post and the 8th Mile post were deprived to the LTTE, leaving room for them to withdraw to Poonery only through sea routes.

This area includes the tactically important Vallaipadu, one of the LTTEís major Sea Tiger bases from which they used to smuggle in logistic supplies from the South Indian coast to Northern Sri Lanka to feed the Tiger cadres operating in the Northern areas and other famous Sea Tiger base Devilís Point.

Within the past one week 58 Division troops and the commando troops were able to hit large number of Tiger vehicles moving into Kiranchi, Vallaipadu, Devilís Point through A-32 road. Therefore troops are now operating just seven to eight kilometres South of Pooneryn.

The 11 Sri Lanka Light Infantry Battalion under the command of Lt.

Colonel Kithsiri Ekanayake which captured more than twelve Tiger bodies last Saturday after confronting the LTTE cadres in the North East of Madam, captured an armoured plated tractor tailor, one motor bicycle used by a LTTE leader at the 9th mile post on the A-32 road.

The troops of the 11 Sri Lanka Light Infantry under the command of Lt.

Colonel Kithsiri Ekanayaka and 8 Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt.

Colonel Welagedara are holding the East and West of the 8th mile post of the Mannar-Pooneryn A-32 road.

As columns of troops heading towards Pooneryn hugging the Mannar Pooneryn A-32 road, the 582 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel. Sanjay Wanigasinghe is heading towards Paranthan Pooneryn road that links to the A-9 road at Paranthan junction between close to 161 mile post on the A-9 road which is four kilometres North of the Northern boundary of the Kilinochchi District.

The 12 Gemunu Watch Battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Nandana Dunuwila is now operating just two to three kilometres South of Pooneryn Paranthan road having crossed a thick jungle patch West of the Kilinochchi. They are now operating five Kilometres North of the northern most edge of the Kilinochchi town and 15 Km West of A-9 road.

With the advance of another two Kilometres troops can hit the Pooneryn Paranthan road to cut off the links to Pooneryn from Kilinochchi. Once this task is achieved there is no need for the troops to go to Pooneryn as it would automatically fall without any confrontations.

That would be a major blow to the LTTE once troops dominate the Pooneryn Paranthan road. The LTTE cadres operating in the Muhamalai and Kilali fronts will also be sandwiched between the troops in the South and the Northern front leaving their links in the mainland only via sea routes. That will also be an impossibility for them as troops in Nagarkovil have already marched towards the Tiger bunker lines destroying many of them to sea off the sea supplies to Muhamalai front.

This will put the Security Forces in much advanced position against the LTTE as they can commit larger number of troops into one front as they have destroyed the capabilities of the LTTE to a greater extent, depriving them from holding these defences.

With troops reaching Pooneryn Paranthan road the Muhamalai front also has the possibility to advance towards the mainland either crossing the Jaffna lagoon or through the ground passing Pallai, Iyakachchi and Elephant Pass as there is no possibility for the LTTE to cut off supplies to the troops as they have links both with the Jaffna peninsula and also with the mainland through A-32 road.

One of the major obstacles for the troops in Muhamalai to advance towards Elephant Pass was due to LTTEís capability to cut off the troops from the Jaffna peninsula once they advanced to Elephant Pass.

With these developments troops will be able to open a land route to Jaffna peninsula very soon either from A-32 road via Pooneryn Sanguppiddy jetty or through A-9 road after connecting the A-32 road into A-9 road having cleared the areas in Muhamalai and Elephant Pass.

This will be a massive achievement for the troops and for the Government as a whole as it would contribute to reduce a huge amount of expenditure as transport cost to send supplies to Jaffna peninsula and to transport troops between Jaffna and Colombo which is now being done through jet liners taking a massive risk in face of LTTE suicide threats.

As troops of the 58 Division are making this massive progress they are now operating in a very much tactically important position as they can reach either Pooneryn, Paranthan or even to Kilinochchi from the Northern edge. It will, however, depend on the decision taken by the Army Commander who is the master decision maker behind all these military operations.Whilst 58 Division troops made their headway further northward from the West of Kilinochchi, the 57 Division also made steady progress this week having captured Akkarayankulam village which is the closest village to Kilinochchi.

The 571 Brigade under the command of Colonel G. V. Ravipriya achieved this on Wednesday with troops of the 9 Gajaba Regiment and 12 Sinha Regiment moving into the Akkarayankulam village which is a fairly big village located South West of Kilinochchi.

Akkarayankulam was a buffer zone to the LTTE which had to defend Kilinochchi town from the advancing troops. Therefore they strongly held this village deploying larger number of cadres.

But they lost the depth to its security with the capture of the massive earth bund in the South of Akkarayankulam on October 18 and subsequently the Akkarayan tank bund.

With this move by the 57 Division troops has also cleared the path towards Kilinochchi as they are now in striking distance from the South West direction too.

Meanwhile, troops attached to the 572 Brigade are also clearing the other earth bund that has been constructed by the LTTE in the South of Kilinochchi. They are clearing bunkers at this earth bund amidst huge resistance from the LTTE and operating only one kilometre away from the build up area in the Kilinochchi town.

The formation of the Task Force III which began operations last Monday under the command of Brigadier Sathyapriya Liyanage from the North West of Mankulam also dealt a major blow to the LTTE.Troops launched their operations form Panikkankulam area and were heading towards Mankulam in order to take control of the A-9 road Kokavil to Mankulam.

They confronted the LTTE in Panikkankulam area on Wednesday and inflicted heavy damage to the LTTE. Lt. Colonel Subashana Welikala (631 Brigade), Lt. Colonel Priyantha Perera (632 Brigade) and Lt. Colonel Prathap Thillekeratne (633 Brigade) have been appointed as the Brigade Commanders of the Task Force III.

The Task Force -II under the command of Brigadier Bandara has been given a defensive role to operate in the West of A-9 road from Mankulam to Omanthai.

According to the Army Commander, troops will be given the task of advancing from West to East to capture the remaining areas under the LTTE.

Therefore it is now time for the LTTE leader Prabhakaran without any delay either to direct his cadres to surrender along with himself and give up arms and enter the democratic mainstream emulating the path of Karuna Amman and Pillayan who are now holding top most positions in the political hierarchy in the country.

It was with all these facts in mind that President Mahinda Rajapaksa invited the Tiger leader to renounce violence and enter the path of democracy or to face defeat, when he presented his fourth budget in Parliament on Thursday.

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