Last batch of Tiger cadres boxed by advancing troops:
Tiger leader counts his final hours
Pix: Rukmal Gamage
entire Sri Lanka nation is now passing its most crucial hours in its
recent history as a new era sans brutal terrorism of the LTTE is due to
dawn within the next few hours as Asia’s longest run conflict is due to
reach an end making all the sacrifices made by the Security Forces and
all citizens of this country a more meaningful one in their effort to
reach the noble task of defeating terrorism.
Therefore, not only the Sri Lankan nation but also the entire world
is now eagerly waiting to see what LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran
would do in his final hours inside his illusionary kingdom reduced to a
tiny plot of land in the sandy terrain of Mullaitivu coast at the time
this newspaper went to press.
The situation was changing so fast and anything would have happened
within the few hours with the dawn of the day as all the signs of an end
game were visible inside the No Fire Zone within the past 48-hour period
in which thousands of civilians deserted the Tiger held terrain, ending
their years long imprisonment by the LTTE.
So, the international community, who were very much concerned about
the plight of the civilians trapped inside the NFZ, would have seen how
they were fleeing from the Tiger grip taking the first available chance.
It was so pathetic that those civilians who were under LTTE detention
for months were fleeing, after crossing the Nanthikadal lagoon with the
help of whatever the floating instrument they had with them.
The live visuals of this tragic scene would be an eye opener to those
vested, interested parties who made desperate attempts to hold the
Security Forces responsible for the civilian casualties inside the NFZ,
as they could see how LTTE was firing towards those innocent civilians
crossing the Nanthikadal lagoon hanging onto whatever floating equipment
The so-called world leaders, who obliquely put the blame on the
Security Forces for violating the commitment they made not to use heavy
calibre weapons during military operations, would have witnessed that it
was not due to any use of heavy calibre weapons but due to direct firing
by the LTTE towards the fleeing civilians that had caused such a panic
inside the NFZ.
They could have witnessed how our Security Forces were risking their
lives to rescue those innocent civilians even though they were aware of
the fact that it was the same civilians who had once backed the LTTE.
But those, who were observing things so remotely, could not understand
the humane qualities of the Sri Lankans when it come to a tragic
situation. The so-called Westerners, who have been confined to their
selfish mentalities, would never be able to understand the way our
people are treating those innocent civilians donating whatever resources
The civilians, who had been entrapped inside the NFZ, got the
opportunity of fleeing towards military controlled areas since last
Tuesday. It was after the 59 Division troops now under the command of
Brigadier Prasanna Silva advanced towards Northward from the Mullaitivu
Forward Defence Line.
It was the first time the troops of the 59 Division commenced
advancing towards the NFZ from south to north. It was under the
supervision of Brigadier Chagie Gallage the defence lines of the 59
Division was strengthened to face any counter attack or any attempt by
the LTTE to infiltrate into the Mullaitivu jungles through a sea
During the short period of time Brigadier Chagie Gallage was handling
operational matters of the 59 Division, measures were taken to reduce
the water level of the Nanthikadal lagoon so that the troops can easily
operate in the lagoon front and to avoid any boat movements by the LTTE.
It was during that period, steps were also taken to connect the
lagoon front where the LTTE was operating with the western edge of the
lagoon by a huge rope. Troops engaged in recee missions also used this
rope to cross the lagoon from one end to the other. The civilians
fleeing from Safe Zone were able to cross the lagoon with the help of
Those steps taken by the 59 Division troops under the command of
Brigadier Gallage greatly helped the troops to rescue the civilians from
the southern part of the Safe Zone.
However, it was under the command of Brigadier Prasanna Silva that
the 6 Sri Lanka Light Infantry battalion commanded by Major Nandana
Yahampath, was able to cross the Nanthikdal lagoon of the Mullaitivu
town, by last Friday and to capture a stretch of LTTE earth bund from
the beach front.
The 59 Division had to advance nearly 2 Km to reach the southern edge
of the No Fire Zone and they had to face stiff resistance from the LTTE
as the troops were entering a most secured terrain under LTTE control.
At the initial stages the 59 Division troops faced stiff resistance
from the LTTE as the biggest resistance came from the heavy weapons they
have located in the Jordanian merchant vessel Fara III which has been
grounded closer to Mullaitvu shores few years back.
The capture of the Tiger earth bund in the southern edge by the
ground troops, increased the threat on the LTTE by two fold as they
earlier had to face the troops only from the Northern front.
Now the LTTE had to concentrate on two Northern and Southern fronts
and to commit its depleting strength into two fronts, making it much
more difficult for them to defend the last terrain.
As troops of the 593 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Sujeewa
Senerath Yapa were consolidating their positions in the newly captured
Tiger earth bund in the beach front, the LTTE launched a massive counter
attack on Tuesday night to recapture the lost terrain.
The initial attack came from suicide boats which rammed into bunkers
manned by the 6 Sri Lanka Light Infantry battalion from the lagoon
front. The suicide boat that rammed into the bunker was larger than the
usual suicide boats of the LTTE, and was fitted with 500 HP outboard
motors so that it can reach the ground once they land in the shore.
According to ground troops, there had been three other suicide boats
which had attempted to reach the Security Forces, and one was fired upon
by the troops and another was disabled after killing the operator.
Troops had also observed that another suicide boat turned away once two
suicide boats were destroyed by the troops.
As the LTTE attempt to breach the Security Forces defences in the
beach and lagoon front was effectively foiled by the ground troops, the
LTTE made another attempt from the ground to breach and recapture the
earth bund. They had used even a 122 mm artillery gun directly
destroying the bunkers manned by the troops.
Fierce fighting erupted as 150 to 200 Tiger cadres attempted to
breach the 59 Division Forward Defence Line close to Wadduvakkal
causeway. Scores of Tiger cadres were believed to have been killed
during this confrontation as troops observed the bodies of Tiger cadres
strewn ahead of their defences.
The troops attached to the 6 Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI)
battalion, 11 Gemunu Watch (GW) battalion, 12 SLLI battalion and two
squadrons of the 4 Special Forces battalion attached to 593 Brigade
commanded by Lt. Colonel Sujeewa Senerath Yapa fought this battle to
defend the captured territory.
As the LTTE made desperate attempts to stop the troops reaching the
southern edge of the No Fire Zone, the 58 Division under the command of
Brigadier Shavendra Silva and 53 Division under the command of Major
General Kamal Gunaratne also made steady progress having reached towards
the newly demarcated Safe Zone, South of Karayanmullivaikkal from the
The 11 SLLI battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Kithsiri
Ekanayake, 12 Gajaba Regiment (GR) under the command of Major Saliya
Amunugama and 9 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel
Lal Chandrasiri advanced further into the Safe Zone located in the East
of A-35 road.
As ground troops advanced into the Safe Zone after capturing the last
earth bund in the northern part of the safe zone, LTTE made a desperate
bid to stop them after directing fire using many heavy weapons.
It was on Wednesday the 9 Gemunu Watch battalion was able to capture
a 6 barrel multi-barrel rocket launcher used against the troops in
It was on Thursday afternoon troops made a major breakthrough
rescuing nearly 4,000 civilians from the Safe Zone. As civilians were
reaching towards the 59 Division crossing the Nanthikadal lagoon, the 58
Division reached towards the Fara III ship from the beach front captured
after fierce battle with the LTTE.
The capture of the Farah III Jordanian vessel was a major
breakthrough for the ground troops and also for the Naval troops
operating in the sea off Mullaitivu as it was used by the LTTE direct
fire towards the ground troops and also towards the Naval boats
The Jordanian cargo vessel developed engine trouble in the sea off
Mullaitivu when it was transporting 14,000 Metric tons of rice from
India to South Africa when Sea Tigers held the 25 crew members and
looted the ship. On Friday the troops attached to 58 Division advanced
further southwards and recovered huge stocks of arms and ammunition from
the Tiger bases in Karaynamullivaikkal area. Thousands of civilians, who
were living in Karayanmullivaikkal Tsunami village were rescued by the
troops. On Friday alone more than 10,000 civilians arrived in military
controlled areas towards 53, 58 and 59 Division areas.
Even the family members of the Tiger leaders arrived in Government
controlled areas mingling with the fleeing civilians.
The family members of the Sea Tiger leader Soosai were also captured
by the Naval troops operating in the Mullaitivu sea. It was around 2
a.m. on Friday that Naval troops detected this boat and arrested the
civilians on board.
Later it was revealed that two sons of Soosai, his wife, his
mother-in-law and his relatives were arrested by the Navy As civilians
fled the Safe Zone, the LTTE cadres trapped inside the sandy terrain in
Mullaitivu North, blasted their bases and ammunitions dumps before being
captured by the advancing troops.
The exodus of civilians continued to flow into the military
controlled areas yesterday too as ground troops further encircled the
Tiger territory as of yesterday morning.
It was on Saturday morning the 58 Division and the 59 Division troops
linked together in the Mullaitivu beach front after 11 Sri Lanka Light
Infantry battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Kithsiri Ekanayake
from the 58 Division and the 11 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command
of Lt. Colonel Tishantha Fernando linked up around 7.30 a.m. yesterday.
It was a historic moment for the 58 Division which commenced
operations from the Mannar front having cleared the entire North Western
coast from Mannar to Pooneryn reaching towards the Mullaitvu coast after
advancing from the West to East.
That was the longest march any offensive Division had made during the
three-years long effort by the Security Forces to defeat the LTTE.As
troops sealed off the entire Eastern coast, the last chances available
for the LTTE leaders trapped inside the NFZ to flee from the country via
sea, was totally denied to them.