by Ranil WIJAYAPALA
one of the historic and landmark victories in military history, troops
of the 58 Division yesterday reached Pooneryn which had been out of
control of the Security Forces for the past one and half decades when
columns of troops from the 58 Division operating in the Western half of
the Kilinochchi District set foot in Pooneryn amidst stiff resistance
from the LTTE.
Columns of infantry troops supported by elite Commandos and Special
Forces troops braved all the natural obstacles-water ways, marshy land
and open terrain to reach Pooneryn-Paranthan Road under the cover of
darkness on Friday night and reached their final objective of capturing
Pooneryn, the last Tiger bastion on the western coast.
It was meant to be the final goal of the 58 Division under the
command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva which was initially formed as the
Task Force one with the prime objective of liberating the, Mannar ‘Rice
Bowl’ the most fertile land in the Mannar District.
AGaONY AND THE ECSTASY....
The Army’s 58 Division led by Brigdier Shavendra Silva goes
ecstatic as they share a well earned smile having captured
Pooneryn after one and a half decades from the LTTE in a
landmark effort in military history. Pic: Rukmal Gamage
The good news about the capture of Pooneryn, the last Tiger bastion
in that hemisphere was conveyed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the
Security Council meeting held yesterday at 10.30 am by Army Commander
Lt. General Sarath Fonseka.
The weekly Security Council meeting was held yesterday as President
Mahinda Rajapaksa was away from the country to attend the BIMSTEC Summit
in India. It was good news for him as the general public has kept faith
in his predictable words about defeating LTTE terrorism very soon.
Rajapaksa has placed full weight on the words of Army Commander
Lt.General Sarath Fonseka that LTTE would be defeated within the
shortest possible time frame to enshrine the Tamil population in the
North too with their democratic rights.
With the capture of Pooneryn, Army Commander has very clearly proven
his ability to achieve what he has promised not only to the President,
but also to the entire country and global community who are very closely
observing the developments on the battlefront in what is described as
the fight against the most ruthless terror outfit in the world.
In other words, with the capture of Pooneryn, the Security Forces
have reached what the entire nation had once disbelieved in being
achieved three years back due to the inflated image of the LTTE as an
Capturing Pooneryn is akin to reaching more than 90 per cent of the
war as it linked the separated parts of the country which had been
divided due to the control of Kilinochchi by the LTTE without leaving
any room for the Security Forces of the country to reach Jaffna through
a land route.
It was after a psychological operation that the troops were able to
reach Pooneryn to link the southern part of the country through a land
route as LTTE fully concentrated on Kilinochchi the de-facto capital of
the LTTE with troops closing in on Kilinochchi and operating some one
and half kilo metres south of Kilinochchi.
The troops of the 58 Division operated some twenty to thirty
kilometres away from Pooneryn when the troops of the 57 Division were
operating just two kilometres South of Kilinochchi.
The battlefront of the 58 Division in the Western part of Kilinochchi
District took on a momentum as they breached the strong defence line
which was described as the last LTTE defence line and advanced towards
The 58 Division commenced its operation at a time when LTTE was
operating along the Vavuniya-Mannar Road threatening military vehicles
and military convoys plying on the Vavuniya-Mannar Road. Many of the
troops going on leave and reporting back to duty and other military
vehicles frequently came under LTTE attacks along this route killing a
large number of them.
The 58 Division was initially formed with the Task Force -I with a
strength of two Brigades concentrated on liberating Mannar ‘Rice Bowl’,
one of the fertile lands in Mannar region. They had to come across one
of the most difficult terrains as explained in military books as they
had to cross huge open terrains to defeat the enemy and capture the
According to military books, this is land in which infantry troops
cannot operate in this terrain. But at the initial stages the main aim
of the troops was to cause maximum attrition to the LTTE by drawing
larger number of cadres to the defence lines without concentrating on
capturing the areas.
A large number of senior level Tiger cadres who operated in the area
were killed as they came and were caught in the trap laid by the
According to records, more than 2000 Tiger cadres were confirmed
killed in Operation ‘Rice Bowl’ which took nearly 10 months for the 58
Division to accomplish under bad weather conditions.
It was on June 29th Security Forces officially declared that the
entire “Rice Bowl’ was taken under the control of the Security Forces.
Soon after the liberation of the ‘Rice Bowl’ and after creating the
widest ever battlefront in the Western flank of the Wanni, after the 57
Division and the 58 Division linked in the South West of Periyamadhu the
58 Division had a fast momentum in its operations.
Seven days after capturing the Rice Bowl, Army managed to capture
Viddathalthivu the biggest Sea Tiger base in the Western coast with
hidden natural harbour which had been heavily used by the LTTE to
smuggle arms and ammunition to the North across the Gulf of Mannar.
Three days after the capture of Viddathalthivu the troops of the 58
Division managed to capture Illuppakadavai, one of the important
townships in the North of Mannar on the Mannar-Pooneryn A-32 Road.
By this time, LTTE had lost many earth bunds that were constructed
with the support of heavy machinery belonging to non-governmental
agencies operating in the Wanni and with the support of the civilian
population entrapped in Wanni.
Then troops reached Vellankulam, the last township in the Mannar
District, where LTTE had many of their offices, Police stations and
political offices on August 07, 2008 completely liberating the Mannar
District from the clutches of the LTTE
Having captured Vellankulam within five days troops reached
Mullankavil that was the second most important township in the
Kilinochchi District where LTTE had famous Mahaveer Stadium the largest
Mahaveer cemetery, political offices and estates, on August 13 this
After passing Mulankavil LTTE had its last defence bund from
Nachchikuda to Akkarayankulam via Pandiveddikulam and Vannerikulam
stretching over 25 to 30 kilometres.
LTTE expected the troops to capture tactically Nachchikuda which was
heavily fortified by the LTTE, but troops took a tactically totally
different move having infiltrated the Tiger earth bund from Karambakulam
located between West of Jeyapuram and Vannerikulam.After breaching the
LTTE earth bund from Karamabakulam troops advanced immediately to the
North and took control of 13km North of Nachchikuda from an area called
Madam on the A-32 Road.Having captured Madam, the LTTE expected to
advance towards Kiranch and Vallaipadu but troops this time too took a
different path and advanced towards the Pooneryn to the North whilst
columns of troops advanced towards South along the A-32 Road to take
control of Nachchikuda.
the capture of Jeyapuram, troops managed to capture Nachchikuda defence
line on November 01. Then onwards the troops cut off the area jacking
out from the A-32 Road between 16th Mile Post and 12th Mile Post sealing
off the area where LTTE had their Sea Tiger bases such as Kiranchi,
Palavi, Devil’s Point and Vallaipadu.
The whole area came under Security Forces control whilst columns of
troops advanced further Northwards towards Pooneryn.
It was after reaching the 8th mile post that troops, once again had
to pass many natural barriers such as marshy lands, open terrain and
water ways. They confronted heavily with the LTTE in the South of
Sempangundu two weeks back and were able to kill 17 Tigers.Though the
area was so difficult troops managed to reach close to the
Pooneryn-Paranthan Road from the East of A-32 Road amidst stiff
resistance from the LTTE.
Having reached closer to Pooneryn-Paranthan Road, forward domination
teams from the two battalions from the Commando Brigade, 2 Commando and
3 Commando Regiment and one squadron from the Special Forces clearly
took the lead in their advance towards the Pooneryn-Paranthan Road.It
was on Friday evening they were given orders to hit the
Pooneryn-Paranthan Road and thereby reach Pooneryn junction to capture
the whole area. Troops attached to the 12 and 10 Gajaba Regiments hit
the Pooneryn-Paranthan Road and headed towards Pooneryn, taking 11km
stretch of road on the Pooneryn-Paranthan Road under their control and
marking one of the biggest ever achievements in their military effort to
defeat the LTTE.The troops of the 58 Division has dramatically advanced
nearly 90km from Vavuniya-Mannar Road to reach Pooneryn, ending their
road facing the Jaffna lagoon and clearing land route to Jaffna
peninsula after 20 years.The capture of Pooneryn relieved more than 90
per cent of the remaining task of the troops to liberate areas under the
control of the LTTE in Jaffna peninsula and also in Kilinochchi North
The LTTE has once again proved its incapability of defending its
strongholds. The LTTE will have to face the same destiny in Kilinochchi
and Mullaitivu too as they cannot manage the pressure mounting from the
Security Forces at present.The troops of the 57 Division and the 59
Division operating in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu fronts have already
cleared their path towards capturing these remaining bastions too with
troops of the 57 Brigade reaching West of Kilinochchi town whilst troops
are operating at a striking distance in the South of Kilinochchi.
Thus, as President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced yesterday following
the victory of the troops, the time is rife for the LTTE to give up arms
and enter the path of democracy accepting the total defeat they are
going to face very shortly at the hands of the Security Forces.