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Sunday, 8 February 2009

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Puthukuduyiruppu awaits final battle

Civilian exodus towards Security Forces controlled areas:


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.

LTTE 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 Colombo.

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.

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.

Inflated figures

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.

Tigers regroup

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 Nanthikadal lagoon.

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

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 further treatment.

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 Puthukuduyiruppu South.

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 areas.

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 flag.

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 area.

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 weapons.

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 Visuamadu town.

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 Puthukuduyiruppu.

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