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Government Gazette

Pooneryn falls


by Ranil WIJAYAPALA

In 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.

President 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 invincible force.

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 Pooneryn.

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 area.

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 Military.

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 year.

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.

After 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 towards Paranthan.

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.

 

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