On the 16th of this month, 16 soldiers of the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) deployed on the frontline were evacuated from the battlefield after they showed signs of breathing difficulty. Initially it looked as if the tigers had used a chemical weapon on the advancing troops. It was later revealed that what the tigers used was CS gas, a non lethal agent that is even used in riot control.
Meanwhile several media institutions published a different story regarding the incident. The following is quoted from The HIndu: “However, a Special Forces soldier in the northern war zone told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a group of his comrades were hit by what appeared to be a burn agent loaded into a shoulder-fired rocket during a battle in the Kilinochchi district on Monday.”. We at DefenceNet would like to confirm that there is no truth whatsoever to this media report. No SLA deaths were caused due to a chemical attack and even the 16 soldiers affected by CS gas have returned to battlefield.
However the fact that LTTE has not used a lethal chemical so far does not mean there is no risk from such an attack. LTTE has repeatedly proven that they will take whatever steps necessary to ensure their organization's survival. Therefore precautions must be taken to face such an attack (if it ever materializes). Gas masks have been issued to several units (but not all) on the Wanni frontline following the CS gas attack. Whether the currently issued gas masks would be effective in the event of LTTE using a more powerful chemical remains to be seen.
Meanwhile more than 25 sea tigers have been confirmed killed in yesterday's sea battle. Sea tigers lost 3 large vessels and 7 smaller craft at the hands of Navy’s SBS (Special Boat Squadron) and newly formed RABS (Rapid Action Boat Squadron). RABS was formed with the intention of boosting Navy’s capabilities to execute rapid attacks in shallow and deep waters. RABS uses fast and easily maneuverable locally built craft in most of their operations. Apart from the ability to execute quick attacks, RABS will be an immense help in combating one of the deadliest weapons of sea tigers – Explosive laden boats manned by suicide cadres.