Lost Paranthan and Kilinochchi within 48 hours:
Downfall of the LTTE
fall of Pooneryn, the LTTE’s strategic nerve centre which could keep the
activities of the Jaffna peninsula, the citadel of the Tamil community,
under intense pressure, marked a drastic downfall of the LTTE. It was
not only a fall of just another strategic township, for the LTTE, but
also a turning point for the people in the Jaffna peninsula to change
their attitude towards the Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
Pooneryn was fallen to the hands of the Security Forces just 10 days
ahead of the annual Heroes Day speech of the Tiger leader Prabhakaran,
it became a more humiliating defeat for the LTTE. With the fall of
Pooneryn LTTE had to once again think of a new strategy to defend their
most prestigious strongholds Paranthan and Kilinochchi.
for the LTTE there was no other novel innovation rather than extending
their earth bunds to cover up their strongholds. This time they created
yet another massive earth bund from North to South direction covering
This ditch cum earth bund ran upto Jaffna lagoon from the South West
Apart from this earth bund the LTTE also created number of defence
lines across the A-9 road from the South of Kilinochchi too where the 57
Division was continuing their battles with the LTTE. Their prime aim was
to create maximum number of barriers for the troops who were trying
their best to capture this Tiger stronghold.
The period soon after the capture of the Pooneryn, did not turn into
good days for the Security Forces. The heavy rains couples with a
cyclone that hit the Northern and Wanni theatre turn the entire battle
front into more like reservoirs. Many troops were marooned in the
frontlines in Pooneryn and Jaffna lagoon, after Mannar-Pooneryn road
inundated at five places making the entire road impassable for more than
Troops of the 57, 58, Task Force II, Task Force III were hit by a
logistical nightmare as there was no supplies were available to them for
more than five days. Even the troops of the 58 Division who were heading
towards Paranthan covering the areas North and South of Pooneryn -
Paranthan B-65 road were also badly affected by the bad weather
The floods in the battlefront, delayed the forward march of the
troops to the prestigious strongholds of the LTTE. However, troops
maintained their huge military thrust on the LTTE despite these bad
weather conditions. However, troops of the 57 Division and the 58
Division had to face the stiffest resistance from the LTTE in their
attempts to cross the massive earth bunds.
At the initial stage of the battle troops faced certain drawback in
their bid to capture this earth bund as LTTE tried to trap the soldiers
crossing this earth bund and advance towards the Tiger territory
directing rains of artillery and mortar towards them soon after they
crossed the earth bund.
A fair number of deaths and casualties were reported and a number of
soldiers reported missing after their initial attempts to capture the
earth bund. The LTTE made use of the captured bodies of the soldiers for
a massive media stint.
But they were not aware of the fact that it was just a temporary
victory for them as troops were determined to launch assaults in a much
more planned manner after facing those temporary setbacks.
The same situation reported was from the 57 Division too in their bid
to capture this earth bund. But troops learnt many lessons from their
drawbacks and it was on December 16, they saw a major breakthrough in
their attempt to take control of this earth bund, which was created from
North to South direction covering their path towards Paranthan and
Kilinochchi. On December 16, 2008, the 57 Division under the command of
Major General Jagath Dias, 58 Division under the command of Brigadier
Shavendra Silva coupled with the 53 Division under the command of the
Brigadier Kamal Gunaratne and the 55 Division under the command of
Brigadier Prasanna de Silva made who were operating in the Jaffna front
launched a simultaneous attacks on Tiger defences.
Although a fair number of casualties and deaths were reported from
the Security Forces during the fierce battles in the 57 and 58 Division
fronts, the 58 Division troops managed to capture one kilometre stretch
of earth bund from the North of Pooneryn - Paranthan B-69 road. It, once
again cleared the path for the Security Forces to breach the Tiger
defence line and move ahead of it.
58 Division facing all counter attacks by the LTTE continuously held
this stretch of earth bund and advanced ahead of it from the Jaffna
lagoon front whilst taking the control of the lagoon front and expanding
their positions along the earth bund from Jaffna lagoon to South of
Pooneryn - Paranthan road.
They faced many counter attacks by the LTTE and the biggest counter
attack came on December 23 as rains of mortar and artillery fell onto
the Security Forces defences starting at 5.30 a.m.
It continued till 8 am in the morning. It was exactly few hours after
that the 58 Division captured Sinnaparanthan area located some five
kilometres west of Paranthan on the Pooneryn-Paranthan road.
However, the 58 Division managed to link up their positions along the
earth bund from Jaffna lagoon to Pooneryn-Paranthan front and continued
to expand towards the South of Pooneryn-Paranthan road towards Adampan
village. The 58 and 57 Division troops were linked up in the immediate
North of Adampan village which is located in the West of Kilinochchi.
Heavy fighting erupted continuously in this front as 58 Division
troops continued their march West to East direction creating a wider
front covering the Pooneryn - Paranthan road. The moves of the 58
Division created a huge problem for the LTTE as the 58 Division front
was in a position to strike Kilinochchi, Paranthan or Elephant Pass at
any given time.
Considering all these factors troops of the 58 Division made their
advance without allowing the LTTE to think of their strategy.
On December 23, the 58 Division troops captured Sinnaparanthan, a
village earlier inhabited by farming community. Soldiers had to fight a
fierce battle before they reached Sinnaparanthan about 6 Km west of
Paranthan town centre.
Having established positions in Sinna Paranthan that was captured on
December 23, 2008, 58 Division troops made their advance towards further
east amidst terrorist fire until they overpowered all terrorist
resistance and captured Nalanawakulam located, about 5 km west of
Paranthan on December 27, 2008.
With the capture of Nalanawakulam, the 58 Division troops were at
striking distance to both Kilinochchi and Paranthan. But their main
target was the strategic junction town Paranthan. Since the terrain the
58 Division troops had to cross to reach Paranthan was somewhat
difficult troops preferred to have night moves rather than fighting the
LTTE during day time.
To make their final move towards Paranthan troops used the 30th night
and the 31st morning before the first light to bring in troops as close
as 500 meters to the West of A-9 road and advanced towards West of
Paranthan on December 31 morning without taking much casualties.
During day time troops managed to pin down LTTE from their defensive
position while attacking them accurately with the use of their massive
fire power. By December 31 evening the LTTE cadres were thoroughly
demoralized and disorganized and it was found that no senior commander
came on to defend their positions against the aggressive troops who were
determined to capture Paranthan and the A-9 before midnight 31, 2008.
That was one of the rare occasions where the troops observed LTTE
leadership blaming each other without adopting any method to prevent the
aggressive troops of the 58 Division.
Sri Lanka Air Force Fighter jets also operated in support of the 58
Division throughout day hours taking amazing hits.
Troops were determined to capture Paranthan latest by 9 pm on
December 31. To achieve the task of making the Paranthan town untenable
to the LTTE the, 58 Division troops cut off A-9 from 3 Km North of
Paranthan, a location between Paranthan and Elephant Pass whilst another
column of troops cut off the A-9 road in general area famously known as
“Karandi Bokkuva” which is located some four Kilo metres South of
Paranthan junction and closer to Kilinochchi town. The 9 Gemunu Watch
battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Lal Chandrasiri advanced
towards the A-9 road from the North of Paranthan while 12 Gemunu Watch
battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Nandana Dunuwila advanced
towards the A-9 road between columns of troops of the 9 Gemunu Watch and
the Paranthan junction. It was the 17 Gemunu Watch battalion under the
command of Lt. Colonel Keerthi Kottewatta advanced head on to the
Paranthan junction in their bid to capture the key junction town.
Troops attached to the 10 Gajaba Regiment under the command of Major
Udaovita advanced from the South of Pooneryn-Paranthan road to cut off
the A-9 road in the general area Karandibokkuwa to the North of
Kilinochchi. The Paranthan junction was completely cut off by 8 p.m.
On December 31 thus giving the good message of capturing Paranthan to
the citizen of Sri Lanka as the dawn of the year 2009.
But it was not the end. The most prestigious Kilinochchi town was
located just few kilo metres away from the Paranthan junction and troops
of the 11 Sri Lanka Light Infantry battalion headed further south of
Paranthan to make the Kilinochchi town untenable for the LTTE from the
Northern direction too when the troops of the 57 Division were
confronting the LTTE from the South and West of Kilinochchi.
Whilst the 58 Division making those strategic moves capturing
Paranthan, the 57 Division under the command of Major General Jagath
Dias also led his troops in the West and South of Kilinochchi towards
The 571 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Harendra Ranasinghe
advanced towards Kilinochchi from the West whilst keeping links with 8
Gemunu Watch Battalion under the command of Lt.
Colonel Vajira Welagedara who was operating in the Southern end of
the 58 Division. That was the vital link between the two Divisions that
led to the battle for Kilinochchi made comparatively an easy one in its
last days of the battle.
By December 3, 2008, the 571 Brigade operating in the West and the
572 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Dhammika Jayasundera
operating in the South West of Kilinochchi have already reached the
build up area of Kilinochchi town West of A-9 road. The 574 Brigade
under the command of Lt. Colonel Senaka Wijesuriya also advanced towards
the vital Iranamadu junction from South of Kilinochchi amidst stiff
resistance from the LTTE.
As of January 01 , the troops observed a remarkable progress in their
march towards Kilinochchi as they observed LTTE cadres fleeing from the
Kilinochchi town loading their stuff in vehicles whilst their leadership
was making desperate attempts to stop them fleeing Kilinochchi.
At the dawn of the January 2, troops of the 572 Brigade, 12 Sinha
Regiment which was under the command of Lt. Colonel Indrajith Bandara, 9
Gajaba Regiment under the command of Lt. Colonel Chandana Somaweera, and
4 Sinha Regiment entered the centre of Kilinochchi after advancing one
kilometre across the build up area in the West of Kilinochchi.
The 3 Gajaba Regiment and the 9 Vijayaba Infantry regiment under the
572 Brigade entered the Kilinochchi town from the North of Iranamadu
junction. The 8 Sri Lanka Infantry Regiment under the command of Lt.
Colonel Epsitha Dissanayake, 10 Sri Lanka Light Infantry battalion under
the command of Major Samantha and 16 Sinha Regiment battalion under the
command of Major Dhammika Dissanayake took control of the area upto the
telecom tower in the South of Kilinochchi.
Amidst these moves LTTE opted to flee from Kilinochchi, towards Dry
Aru in the East of Kilinochchi. Fierce battles erupted in Dry Aru tank
area and Iranamadu tank as troops further advanced towards the East of
Kilinochchi town to make the town more safer.One major obstacle they
faced was the 30 mm canon famously known as pedal gun of the LTTE that
directed fire at the advancing troops who shifted that gun from the area
by January 2 afternoon to ensure the area is safe to declare Kilinochchi
However , by the time the 57 Division moved into the centre of
Kilinochchi town the 58 Division troops have already in control of the
Northern part of the town where LTTE had their political and other major
buildings. It was after President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced the fall
of Kilinochchi, the national flag was hoisted in the centre of
Kilinochchi town by 57 Division GOC, Major General Jagath Dias closing
another decisive chapter in the Eelam War IV.