The LTTE was defeated in the Eastern theatre one after the other when
they lost control of the Chenkaladi-Maha Oya Road to the Security Forces
on April 11, 2007. The only hope they had in the East was Baron’s cap
area or famously known Thoppigala jungle.
Although many military strategists and experts considered Thoppigala
jungle as an area without any tactical importance, for the LTTE it was
the main hub for their terror activities in the Eastern theatre.
For them, it was an income generating source, a jungle hideout,
training base and also a tactically important location to show their
force to few administrative districts including Batticaloa, Ampara and
Having captured the A-5 Road and the Batticaloa West and South from
the clutches of the LTTE, the Sri Lanka Army designed its plan to
capture the Thoppigala jungle from the clutches of the LTTE.
Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka wanted each and every Tiger
operations in the East to be ended to focus his attention towards the
Wanni liberation operation.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
extended their fullest support for the operation, providing each and
every resource the Security Forces needed to conduct this operation.
The main requirement of the Army was to have more man power in the
Eastern province to man the areas they had liberated from the clutches
of the LTTE and also to maintain peace in the province without allowing
the LTTE to infiltrate into the area.
At the same time, the Army also had to maintain its military thrust
on the LTTE continuously without allowing them to re-group in the
Colonel Chagie Gallage, who was in charge of the Thoppigala
operation, was asking for more battalions to continue their operation as
he was badly in need of man power.
Although many new infantry battalions were formed during this period
none of those battalions were deployed to the Eastern battle.
Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka was concentrating his
attention on the Wanni liberation operation by this time as he opened up
the SLA’s first offensive formation, the 57 Division, to liberate Wanni
in February, 2007 in Kalmadu in Vavuniya.
Therefore, Colonel Gallage, who was the Commando Brigade Commander
and also the man in charge of the Thoppigala battle, was asked to
continue the operation with the available battalions. He made his
operational centre in Maha Oya but later moved his Brigade to
Illuppakadavai junction. However, all the Infantry battalions
established their bases along the Maha Oya-Chenkaladi Road.
Troops of the 2 and 3 Commando Regiments, 6,7,8 and 9 battalions of
the Gemunu Watch, 1 Sinha Regiment, 10 Gajaba Regiment, Engineering
Regiment, Armoured Corps and Artillery Regiment were entrusted with the
task of the Thoppigala liberation operation.
The Tiger leadership in Wanni was shaken with the troops capturing
the A-5 Road and nearly 80 cadres under the leadership of Ramesh were
sent from Wanni via thick jungle patches in Trincomalee and Batticaloa
districts to strengthen their strongholds in Thoppigala.
However, Security forces detected this movement and engaged them when
they were crossing Angodawilluwa south-west of Trincomalee on April 12.
Ramesh had a narrow escape, but ‘Lt. Colonel’ Ashok, Ramesh’s buddy and
the doctor who accompanied the team were killed in the attack.
However, troops attached to 2 Commando supported by 6, 7 and 8 Gemunu
Watch, Armoured Corps and Artillery commenced the final lap of the
operations to fully liberate the East from the Tiger grip on April 25.
Their aim was to clear the Tiger camp complexes in Thoppigala jungles
bordering to Polonnaruwa-Batticaloa A-5 Road from the North, Maduru Oya
from the West and Maha Oya-Chenkaladi Road from the East and South.
The task before them was enormous since the terrain before them was
thick jungle with mountains and rocks giving full advantage to the enemy
rather than to the advancing troops.
Commando troops gave the lead moving to Tiger territory and
identifying and destroying their gun positions. The 6, 7, 8 Gemunu Watch
maintained a defence line after the capture of the areas by the Commando
The troops observed that the Tiger outfit had developed a well
planned network of supply routes to the Thoppigala jungles as they
advanced towards Tiger territory.
After the loss of a number of LTTE localities between Thoppigala and
Batticaloa, LTTE cadres at Thoppigala were cut off from outside
resources. They were running short of food, medical supplies and
probably heavy weapons and ammunition.
As the first phase of the operation mainly focused to cut off the
supplies to Tiger camp complex was successful by June 2007, the Security
Forces then moved to the final stage of the Thoppigala battle.
The troops engaged in this operation had been able to reduce the
number of Tiger cadres in the entire Thoppigala area to 200 to 250.
According to field commanders, 1,400 to 1,500 cadres were in the
South and West of Batticaloa prior to the commencement of this operation
and after the completion of the Vakarai operation in January.
More than 600 cadres, many from Batticaloa region left the
organisation since the eruption of battles, and reunited with their
With many Tiger cadres leaving the organisation Jeyam, Nagesh and
Ramesh leading the Tiger battle in Thoppigala jungles were making
desperate attempts to keep these Tiger cadres under their fold.
According to Security Forces, the Tiger outfit was making desperate
attempts to flee Thoppigala possibly with the support of a sea movement
from Mullaitivu as they were making their retreat towards the lagoon.
Many other cadres were fleeing towards Wanni crossing the Polonnaruwa-
Batticaloa Road from Vakaneri taking cover in the thick jungles in
Amidst these desperate attempts by the Tiger cadres to flee the area,
troops were moving towards Narakkamulla and Tharavilkulam where the
Tiger outfit was having their main military and training bases.
The three groups in the elite Commando Regiment - ALPHA (A), BRAVO
(B) and DELTA (D) launched the mission to capture Thoppigala under the
leadership of Captain Thushara Weththasinghe who led the A group,
Captain Ravi Ratnayake B group and Captain Malinda Aluvihare D group.
On 10th of June, 2007 SL Army troops overran four LTTE camps in
Pankudaweli North, and Narakkmulla South. Four LTTE camps at, Ibbanvila,
Akkarathivu, Mawadi-ode, and Veppanveli had been captured by SL Army
Although the offensive met almost no LTTE resistance in early days,
it came under heavy LTTE counterattacks in the later stage. LTTE offered
fierce resistance when troops attempted to capture the final LTTE
defence line (near Narakkamulla east) on the June 19.
The FDL was fortified with 6 bunkers and 3 minor camps. Even after a
heavy barrage of artillery and tank fire at the FDL, LTTE had not
vacated their positions.
The LTTE was taken by surprise by army’s next move.
Nearly 50 soldiers of the Commando regiment stormed into LTTE bunkers
and opened fire on defending terrorists. In a few seconds, the entire
scenario of the battle changed. LTTE cadres, who initially had the upper
hand of the battle, were now trapped inside their own bunker line.
This devastating commando raid left 30 terrorists dead. Three LTTE
cadres had committed suicide during the battle. In contrast to heavy
LTTE casualties, only 4 commando personnel received injuries.
It was on June 26, 2007 the 2 Commando Regiment under the command of
Major Uditha Bandara was given instruction to capture the Narakkamulla
Tiger base. On June 26, around 7 p.m. the number 1 team of the Alpha
Group under the command of Captain Dissanayake made a move towards this
heavily fortified Tiger base. They had to cross a six kilo metres
terrain to reach the rocky mountain unnoticed to the Tiger cadres.
Captain Dissanayake and the team reached the Tiger camp complex from the
southern direction of the camp and reached closer to it around 3 a.m on
the morning on June 27. The team observed that there were around 30
Tiger cadres operating inside the camp. Intercepted radio transmissions
confirmed that it was the base where Tiger leader Jeyam was operating.
The LTTE had all their heavy weapons installed there and the commando
troops started firing at the Tiger camp around 3 a.m. Fierce fighting
continued till morning as the LTTE cadres operating there could not make
out from which direction the fire was coming. Amidst stiff resistance
from the LTTE, the commando team managed to kill as many Tiger cadres.
Finally, the Tiger leaders had to ask for the assistance of their
Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher to neutralize the Commando team. They
called three MBRL shoots targeting the Commando team. Captain
Dissanayake was seriously injured in one of these MBRL shootings.
However, the 2 Commando Regiment Commanding Officer Major Uditha
Bandara and Colonel Chagie Gallage made arrangements to take Captain
Dissanayake to a safer place.
Over 30 LTTE cadres were killed during the battle, and the troops
found eight dead bodies. One soldier was killed and 17 others sustained
injuries during the battle.
The army during the subsequent search found 06 Multi Purpose Machine
Guns (MPMG), 21 T-56 assault riffles, 04 Rocket Propeller Grenade (RPG)
launchers, and a large quantity of Anti Personnel (AP) mines and
Advancing troops in Thoppigala area detected the largest ever single
fleet of vehicles abandoned by the LTTE. Troops in Narakkamulla,
Taravikulam and surrounding areas in Thoppigala were able to detect six
double cabs, four vans, seven tractors with trailers, fifteen trailers,
nine canter lorries, nineteen motorbikes and two bowsers.
A camp where LTTE conscripts and abductees have suffered immense
torture after confining them to cells, ‘torture chambers’, was detected
by the troops on June 28. The Army was advancing further into the centre
of Thoppigala jungles across Narakkamulla and Taravikulam. Few metres
away from the camp was a brand new luxurious Nissan Sunny car, said to
have been used by one of the LTTE top ranks and now left behind before
Tigers ran away as the troops marched on. The car, with all new gadgetry
and sophisticated equipment, was found in the Veppavadduan area in the
general area of Narakkamulla, Thoppigala.
Thirty-seven- year-old Sergeant M.H. Neelaweera, a father of two was
the team leader of the ALPHA team which undertook the task of capturing
the Narakkamulla complex which is Karuna’s infamous ‘Tora Bora’ complex.
He is an ‘Angel’ to the Commando Brigade. Each and every solider is
given a nick name in the Commando regiment and their nick names are
printed on their uniform. Until they are promoted to a higher rank they
are popularly known by their nick names.
Angel seems to be proud above all. He says that he led his team to
the most crucial point of the LTTE and he took the task of capturing
Narakkamulla with the strong determination that they could hoist the
National Flag on top of the rock.
On the morning of Thursday, June 28, Security forces personnel
confronted a group of tigers who were fleeing the fightings in
Thoppigala, west of Mavil Aru in Trincomalee and killed 11 LTTE cadres.
In a subsequent search operation a stock of T-56 weapons, three hand
grenades and a radio were uncovered from the surrounding where the
confrontation took place.
Six Security Forces personnel including two officers attached to the
Sri Lanka Armoured Corps were killed on July 6 as they come under LTTE
attack from the East of Barons’ Cap and West of Tharavi area.
That was the highest number of Security Forces personnel killed
during the operation to wrest control of the Thoppigala. During the
entire operation only 18 soldiers were killed and 68 soldiers sustained
On the LTTE side, 211 LTTE cadres were killed during the Thoppigala
operation and the number exceeded 500 in the operations conducted in the
west and south of Batticaloa.
The jubilant troops, led by the 2nd Commando Regiment, made their way
to Baron’s Cap on Wednesday, July 11, 2007, morning to reach their final
target in the East, ending their month long mission in the Thoppigala
jungles.However, that was not the end of their operation. More infantry
battalions were deployed to unearth the weapons dumped by the LTTE and
to clear the booby traps and mines in the jungle. Troops found the
hidden wealth of the LTTE in this thick jungle which was described by
some disgruntled politicians as a mere jungle.It was one of the major
turning points in the fourth Eelam war as the victory in Thoppigala
preceded a major public interest towards the military operations, thus
encouraging thousands of youth to join the Sri Lanka Army.