Puthukuduyiruppu awaits final battle
Civilian exodus towards Security Forces controlled
by Ranil WIJAYAPALA
Apparently Liberation Tigers were in no mood to liberate the Tamil
population. Though they were given 48 hours to let go the civilians,
they made use of that time to regroup and fight back to recapture the
areas lost to the troops.
attempts to recapture lost areas fail
The Security Forces in the
Northern battle front fought back fearlessly to foil all
Tiger plans to ensure that the territory captured was safe.
Thus, the Security Forces foiled the
desperate attempts by the
LTTE to reverse all the victories achieved by them.
The LTTE ignored the 48 hour
ultimatum given to them to allow the civilians taken hostage
by them to enter the safe zone and liberated areas. Though
it was not a Ceasefire, the Security Forces relaxed the
intensity of their military thrust on Tiger controlled areas
to certain extent expecting a massive influx of civilians
into Government controlled areas.
That was the only result the Government could observe immediately
after the 48 hour truce ended on January 31 mid night. The LTTE launched
A massive attack on the 59 Division and Task IV defences having breached
the Security Forces defences West of Nanthikadal lagoon last Sunday.
The objective of the LTTE was clear. They wanted to recapture the
area South of Puthukuduyiruppu and hoist the LTTE flag in Mullaitivu
once the Sri Lankan nation celebrated the 61st Independence Day in
The Security Forces in the Northern battle front fought back
fearlessly to foil all Tiger plans to ensure that the territory captured
was safe. Thus, the Security Forces foiled the desperate attempts by the
LTTE to reverse all the victories achieved by them.
The LTTE ignored the 48 hour ultimatum given to them to allow the
civilians taken hostage by them to enter the safe zone and liberated
areas. Though it was not a Ceasefire, the Security Forces relaxed the
intensity of their military thrust on Tiger controlled areas to certain
extent expecting a massive influx of civilians into Government
The Security Forces deployed additional vehicles and men and women To
facilitate the movement of more civilians who would arrive in the area
under their domination during this 48 hour period. But the response from
the civilians was poor as only 300 civilians arrived.
It was a very low figure compared to the number of civilians
entrapped there in Puthukuduyiruppu North and West and Visuamadu areas
as Government Agent in Mullaitivu has confirmed that 118,000 people are
living there in uncleared areas.
The actual number of civilians was later found to be much less when
the Nation Building Ministry, which is responsible for providing all
facilities for the entrapped civilians in Emulative, confirmed that it
was only 89,000 following confirmation from the Mullaitivu GA that
20,000 persons counted in his earlier list were found non-existing.
However, many agencies including ICRC and the UN claimed that more
than 250,000 were entrapped there.
Some politicians in Colombo with no connection to ground realities
put it even higher - figure as 400,000. It is obvious these figures are
inflated for political reasons. The Census carried out in 2002 put the
total population in the Mullaitivu district as 208, 000. With the onset
of the war many people had moved out.
There are around 60, 000 persons from the Vanni in the Colombo
district. An equal number has moved to Vavuniya, Anuradhapura and the
Central Province. It defies all logic and mathematical probability to
say there are over 250, 000 civilians in the area.
The LTTE had taken maximum advantage out of the 48 hour period given
to the civilians to take refuge in safety zone. The Tiger plans were
unfurled on Sunday morning when columns of Tiger cadres infiltrated into
the Security Forces defences South of Puthukuduyiruppu and West of
Their intention was to push the Security Forces out of
Puthukuduyiruppu South as it was the only township they have been left
with in Mullaitivu at present.
LTTE feared that the troops would conquer Puthukuduyiruppu too by the
time the 61st Independence Day celebrations take place on February 04.
According to military intelligence all top level Tiger leaders, Sea
Tiger leaders Soosai, Theepan, Swarnam and Bhanu were giving
instructions on communication sets to over 150 Tiger cadres who had
infiltrated the Security Forces defence West of Nanthikadal lagoon after
reaching there in boats.
The infiltrated Tiger cadres had attacked number of Army vehicles
which were operating South of Puthukuduyiruppu, causing a fair number of
casualties among the troops. Meanwhile, several other columns of Tiger
cadres that infiltrated into these defences attacked several Company
Headquarters of the 593 Brigade located West of Nanthikadal lagoon.
Intense fighting erupted in the Puthukuduyiruppu South as Tiger
cadres opened fire at the Security Forces defences and the vehicles
operating there in Puthukuduyiruppu South. Many soldiers wounded in the
fighting were rushed to Oddusudan and later taken to Vavuniya for
The Air Mobile Brigade which was operating under 53 Division under
the command of Brigadier Kamal Gunaratne was rushed to Puthukuduyiruppu
South as intense fighting continued till Monday morning in
Dozens of soldiers went missing during the fierce fighting that
erupted on Sunday and continued till Monday morning. Under these
circumstances further measures were taken to strengthen the defences of
the 59 Division under the command of Brigadier Nandana Udawatta and the
Task Force IV under the command of Colonel Nishantha Wanniarachchi which
were operating in Puthukuduyiruppu South.
The Forward defence lines were readjusted to face this situation with
additional troops deployed into these defences in search of Tiger cadres
that had infiltrated into the area. There were strong indications that a
number of Tiger cadres have infiltrated into the area, due to isolated
incidents taking place in Oddusudan North and Puthukuduyiruppu South
Desperate measures As the Tiger cadres that infiltrated into
Puthukuduyiruppu South failed to achieve their objective the Tigers were
taking desperate measures. The first such incident took place in
Puthukuduyiruppu South on Tuesday evening as the South was preparing for
the Independence celebrations after tightening security in Colombo with
more than 4000 Security Forces personnel arriving in Colombo for the
Independence Day parade at Galle Face green.
The troops manning the forward defences thought that the four
vehicles arriving there were transporting civilians who are fleeing
Puthukuduyiruppu. The troops there challenged the vehicles and stopped
them as they reached towards the Security Forces defences.
Once they were stopped the four vehicles were exploded in a massive
blast causing injuries to a large number of soldiers manning the
defences there in Puthukuduyiruppu South. Many lives of the soldiers
were saved as they took precautionary action to stop the vehicle before
they reached nearer.
It was after the explosion the troops realized those explosive laden
trucks were driven by suicide cadres to cause maximum damage to the
Security Forces operating there. If not for the measures taken by the
troops the LTTE would have driven those explosive laden vehicles further
South of Puthukuduyiruppu aiming at a bigger disaster.
Brigadier Prasanna Silva with 553 Brigade Commander Colonel
Mahinda Weerasuriya, 552 Brigade Commander Kapila Udulapola and
commanding officers and the troops after hoisting the National
But the LTTE could not reach the desired objectives through these
suicide blasts but only displayed its desperation. That was the only way
they could respond to the situation they have to face at present.
Through these desperate acts they wanted to give a clear message to
the international community that they were engaged in a do or die battle
against the Security Forces at a time Sri Lanka is celebrating
Independence. But all those plans were foiled by the Security Forces
sacrificing their lives and limbs on behalf of their motherland.
These desperate attempts of the LTTE very clearly indicate that they
are making their final attempts to resist the Security Forces as they
are aware that within the next few days Security Forces would be ready
to overrun the remaining territories under them.
They are making use of any lull in the battle, whether it was given
by the Government in view of the safety of the civilians or any other
purpose, to regroup and fight back. It is apparent that the LTTE would
cause massive destruction in Puthukuduyiruppu, the last township under
their control once the Security Forces reach towards this massive
buildup area West of Mullaitivu.
Civilians not spared
The Tiger leadership will not hesitate to prey on any civilian life
to deter the speedy advance of the troops. They want to show that people
are not willing to move into the Government controlled areas despite the
severe hardships they face.
The LTTE is taking maximum advantage out of the civilians entrapped
there in Puthukuduyiruppu, to tarnish the image of the Security Forces
and to get the international community to exert pressure on the
Government to declare a Ceasefire.But many countries, international
organizations except for a handful hell bent towards the terror cause of
the LTTE, have realized that many of the allegations levelled against
the Security Forces are baseless.
Though LTTE are trying their best to keep the civilians under their
control they have failed in this endeavour too. Now thousands of
civilians have started to flee Tiger controlled areas. The number of
civilians arriving in Government controlled areas number more than
thousand a day by Friday night.
According to 58 Division 5500 civilians have arrived in Visuamadu
area on Friday night, the biggest number of civilians to arrive in a
single day. Therefore, it is inevitable that the LTTE would be isolated
very soon in Puthukuduyiruppu with all these civilians leaving this
These civilians have reported that the LTTE had made several attempts
to stop these civilians by shooting at them. But these civilians have
fearlessly fought back with the Tiger cadres and some instances they
have killed Tiger cadres who had tried to prevent them fleeing the area.
Civilian exodus As of yesterday the Security Forces have confined the
LTTE to 96 square kilometres and surrounded the entire Puthukuduyiruppu
from all sides except the beach front, following 58 Division under the
command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva making two way advance into
Puthukuduyiruppu from North to South and West to East.
The 58 Division by yesterday have already captured the Suganthanpuram
village where LTTE is having its biggest Tiger base and recovered a
large haul of arms and ammunition and a container loads of heavy
The 55 Division under the command of Brigadier Rosanna Silva has
witnessed how the LTTE is making use of children as combatants and
suicide bombers on Wednesday as they were advancing towards Chelae, the
last Sea Tiger base in the Eastern coast.
Battle for Chalai The 55 Division commenced the final phase of their
operation to capture Chalai around mid noon on Wednesday as young girl
aged 13 to 14 suddenly appeared in front of the Tiger defences and
started to reach the Security Forces defences as if she was going to
surrender to the Security Forces.A soldier in the front line after
observing her suspicious move challenged her to stop. Once she was
stopped there the girl had exploded her suicide kit that she was wearing
causing minor injuries to the soldier.
The Security Forces believe that she had been sent to the defence
line to cause maximum casualties to the Security Forces as there was no
other option available for them to stop the troops advance into Chalai.
This gives strong indications that the LTTE is ready to send their
human bombs one after the other during the last battle which is going to
be fought in the Puthukuduyiruppu as Visuamadu and Chalai have also been
captured by the troops as of yesterday.
The 55 Division commenced the operation to capture Chalai on February
1. The 55 Division planned the operation in two stages. Stage One was to
cross the open terrain. The Second was to cross the 350 metre long
lagoon stretch between two islands.
The 4 Gemunu Watch under the command of Major Upul Senerath attached
to the 552 Brigade was given the task of crossing the open terrain with
earth bunds. After commencing the operation on February 1 at 6.30 p.m.
the 4 Gemunu Watch troops completed their task amidst heavy artillery
and mortar fire of the LTTE.
The second phase of the operation was entrusted to the 553 Brigade
under the command of Lt. Colonel Mahinda Weerasuriya. The 7 Vijayabha
Infantry Regiment under the command of Lt. Colonel Deepal Pussellage,
and 6 Sri Lanka Light Infantry battalion under the command of Major
Manada Yahampath commenced the second phase of the battle on February 2.
The 1 Commando Regiment also gave close support for the 553 Brigade.
The 553 Brigade reached Chalai Sea Tiger base after capturing three
massive earth bunds constructed by the LTTE to stop the advance of the
troops towards Chalai. The Sea Tigers made desperate attempts to stop
the advancing troops after reaching the area in five boats and attacking
the troops of the 6 Sri Lanka Light Infantry Battalion.
Troops foiled all these attempts by the Sea Tigers and reached Chalai
destroying LTTE boats. The troops also recovered a large attack craft
belong to the Sea Tigers and a large haul of weapons from the area.
Three Sea Tiger leaders including Vinyagam supposed to be the third in
command of the Sea Tiger wing also killed during the battle.
As 55 Division reached the Chalai Sea Tiger base the 57 Division
under the command of Major General Jagath Dias and 58 Division under the
command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva has completed the mission of
capturing Visuamadu amidst stiff resistance from the LTTE.
The 58 Division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva
captured Visuamadu North of A-35 road whilst 572 Brigade under the
command of Colonel Senerath Bandara and 574 Brigade under the command of
Lt. Colonel Senaka Wijesuriya captured the southern part of the
The 572 Brigade under the command of Colonel Senerath Bandara has
also recovered a Tiger hospital on Tuesday. They have also captured a
luxury house fitted with a lift in Visuamadu South.
As of yesterday the 57 Division is heading towards Puthukuduyiruppu
from West to East direction whilst 58 Division which had reached to the
North of Puthukuduyiruppu has commenced their operations in a North to
South direction setting the theatre for the final battle in