Thursday, January 31, 2008

Suicide attack kills four civilians - Jaffna

A suicide bomber exploded himself in Thirunaweli, Jaffna killing four and injuring another two. According to reports, all casualties are civilians. The incident occurred in a marketplace along Thrirunaweli- Kalliyankadu road at 11.25AM toady (31at).

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Meanwhile four black tigers were arrested by Vavuniya police in Irattaperiyakulam on the 27th of this month. Preliminary investigations have revealed that these cadres were on a mission to eliminate a VVIP. The arrest was made after a senior LTTE cadre who was arrested in Colombo revealed the whereabouts of the tiger team. The suspect also revealed that four other black tigers from the same team were sent to Kandy on another mission. According to his information, the tiger team was residing in the 'Le Kandyan' hotel in Heerassagala, Kandy. A police team was immediately dispatched to arrest these cadres. However the tigers had vacated the hotel before the police could make the arrest. Police later found out that the four suspects had used fake identities and had claimed they were millionaire businessmen when they made the reservation at the hotel.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fighting escalates in Nagarkovil

Heavy fighting broke out between the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) when the former launched a fresh limited operation targeting LTTE assets on the Nagarkovil forward defense line, today (30th) dawn.

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Soldiers of the army's 53rd division and 55th division moved ahead of their positions at around 12.00AM to launch a surprise attack on several LTTE bunkers on the front line. Their advance was backed by artillery fire and armored vehicles including T-55 main battle tanks (MBT). 35 bunkers in the FDL have been captured by the army. 20 bunkers out of the 35 are reported to be destroyed during battle. At least 10 LTTE cadres are confirmed to be killed and 10 SLA personnel too have been injured.

A large number of LTTE cadres who were manning defensive positions in the frontline pulled back to their second line of defense in the face of army advance. Troops are currently defusing mines and booby traps in the newly captured areas.

Update: Sri Lanka Air Force Kfir bombers raided an LTTE operations command center in Weddukadu, South of Muhamalai few hours after the SLA advance.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Task Force 01 captures Vivattankulam

Soldiers of the army's 58th division (also known as Task Force 01 - or 01 Kaarya Sadhana Balakaya in Singhalese) today overran the LTTE bunker line ahead of the village of Vivattankulam, South west of Adampan, Mannar.

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More than 20 LTTE cadres are believed to be killed in the prolonged firefight which started at 8.30 AM in the morning. However we cannot confirm these casualty figure as of yet. The army has overrun 16 bunkers in the LTTE defense line. Sporadic clashes are still continuing in the area.

The 58th division, commanded by Brigadier Shamindra de Silva, is advancing towards the major LTTE stronghold of Vidaththalthivu through Adampan. TF-01 is comprised of 8th Sinha regiment, 10th Gajaba regiment, 6th Gemunu Watch, 8th Gemunu Watch and 9th Gemunu Watch.

Monday, January 28, 2008

LTTE shells Jaffna, flights to Palaly canceled

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fired their long range artillery guns targeting several military positions in Jaffna peninsula today. According to SLA sources, artillery fire originated from LTTE controlled territory in Pooneryn. Although there are no casualties reported yet, all flights to Palaly air force base have been temporarily suspended.

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The LTTE artillery attack is believed to have targeted a delegation of top military officials who were to attend the inauguration ceremony of the newly formed Mechanized Infantry Division (MID). The aircraft carrying the officials has been diverted back to Katunayake AB (without landing in Palaly) fearing more shelling.

LTTE previously shelled the HQ of the 53rd division back in February 2007 while a meeting discussing the formation of the MID was ongoing.

In other news a 60km area of Bibila-Ampara road has been temporarily closed due to a currently ongoing search operation.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Prabhakaran unlikely to be injured in air raid

Many Sri Lankans all over the world were in an upbeat mode on the 23rd of January when Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets raided a clandestine LTTE military base deep inside the jungles east of Iranamadu. Reason for the jubilant mode among the crowd were various reports (both military sources and public media) which suggested that the LTTE leader could have perished in the attack.

However latest intelligence reports suggest otherwise. According to them, the LTTE leader was not at X-Ray base when fighter jets raided it. Therefore it is highly unlikely that he suffered any injuries in the aforementioned air strike. The LTTE, however did not get away with a few destroyed buildings. X-Ray base was a top secret installation to which only senior cadres of the organization were allowed entry. According to our sources more than 20 LTTE cadres including 5 leaders (none of them top level leaders) of the outfit were killed in the attack. An unknown number of cadres including fighters from Imran Pandiyan regiment who were in charge of defense of the base, are said to be injured.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fall of Adampan imminent

Soldiers of the army's 58th division backed by artillery fire and armored units overran a section of LTTE's forward defense line south of Adampan, Mannar yesterday. 9 LTTE cadres were killed and 12 more are reported to be wounded when army overran 7 bunkers on the FDL. Advancing SLA forces are now about 800m from the Adampan town center. 58th division (Task Force 01), is advancing towards the major LTTE stronghold of Viduthalaithiv through Adampan sector.

Clashes erupted 8.30 AM in the morning when SLA units moved ahead of their current FDL towards LTTE controlled territory. With the recent construction of the second defense line between Adampan and the tiger stronghold of Viduthalaithiv, it was expected that the LTTE would pull back without offering too much resistance. However the tigers resisted the army advance for a significant amount of time until they were finally forced further back.

Meanwhile SLN commandos from the Special Boat Squadron (SBS) recovered a large cache of ammunition hidden in Peraru jungles, west of Nilaweli. 63 RPGs, 6000 7.62mm rounds and two T-56 weapons were uncovered. LTTE is known to use this jungle route to send guerilla attack teams into government controlled territory.

The Sri Lanka Air Force  bombed what it called was a transport base of the LTTE located in Kilinochchi yesterday (25th) morning. According to the pilots, the target was accurately hit. LTTE however denied the claim mentioning that the bombers attacked a civilian populated area. This claim however is disputed as LTTE's anti aircraft guns fired when the jets flew above the target. LTTE does not place its AA guns in locations that are of no military significance. Pro LTTE did not admit the placement of AA guns around the bombed location. Instead it claimed that "Liberation Tigers anti-aircraft unit rushed to the area and opened fire when SLAF fighter jets swooped over the suburb, forcing the planes to higher altitudes". If this claim is true, how the LTTE units performed the miraculous task of beating supersonic jets to the scene of bombing is beyond our wildest imaginations.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Group based attacks continue on northern FDL

Sri Lanka Army (SLA) kept up its attacks on LTTE forward defense lines in Muhamalai, Kilali and Nagarkovil through several limited offensives utilizing small attack teams. Soldiers of the 55th division launched two successful strikes targeting LTTE infrastructure along the National Front, destroying two bunkers in the FDL. At least 3 LTTE cadres were killed in the firefights. In a separate incident, army snipers shot dead two LTTE cadres in Ponnar in Kilali region.

According to reports from the battlefront, majority of the LTTE deaths are child soldiers. LTTE leaders who are in charge of Muhamalai operations, Theepan and Lawrence, are said to be in command bunkers situated as much as 20km away from the frontline.

Meanwhile security around the Rantambe reservoir was tightened today after several civilians tipped off the police about an unidentified group being sighted in the area. Rantambe reservoir and the adjoining hydro power station are vital to the country's power generation capability. Military Intelligence previously warned about LTTE's plans to attack major thermal and hydro power stations in the country to cripple the island's power supply.

16 dead bodies found in Kebithigollewa

The police has located 16 dead bodies in the border village of Kiriketuwewa, Kebithigollewa today evening.  All the victims are suspected to be civilians. The bodies were dumped in two garbage dumps when police made the discovery.

Heavy LTTE casualties in air strike

It was only yesterday (24th) when Sri Lanka Air Force used 6 of its fighter jets to raid a major LTTE military facility deep inside the jungles east of Iranamadu. More details are now surfacing regarding the aftermath of one of the most devastating air strikes in the Eelam War 4.

According to military intelligence reports, hospitals in Kilinochchi are being filled with wounded LTTE cadres. Intel reports suggest that a significant number of cadres from Prabhakaran's elite guard unit, the Imran-Pandiyan regiment, are among the wounded.

However there is still no confirmation on any injuries caused to LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran. The pilots who took part in the raid could not confirm if anti aircraft fire was directed at their planes or not. LTTE usually places its truck mounted 14.5mm AA batteries in close proximity to LTTE leader's hideouts in fear of air strikes. If AA fire was absent when the attack occurred it may be an indication of LTTE leader having just left the scene prior to bombing. This however is a wild guess as of this moment.

SLAF used 24 bunker buster bombs to attack the X-Ray base, razing its buildings to dust in a matter of minutes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

LTTE maintains radio silence after air strike

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) maintained radio silence after a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) raid targeted one of its highly secured military complexes deep inside the jungles east of Iranamadu today morning. LTTE also ordered all shops in Kilinochchi town to be closed down immediately following the aerial raid. SLAF used 6 fighter jets simultaneously in one of the largest air strikes in the 4th Eelam War. However there is still no confirmation on any injuries caused to the LTTE leader Prabhakaran, who was supposedly present at the base during the bombing.

In the northern front, soldiers from 10th Gajaba regiment, 8th Gemunu watch and Commando regiment carried out several limited operations ahead of newly captured areas in Uliyankulam. LTTE casualty details in these operations are not available as of now.

At least 20 LTTE cadres have been killed in sporadic clashes that erupted in Mannar, Vavuniya and Weli Oya fronts in the last three days.

Fighter jets raid X-Ray Base

Sri Lanka Air Force's supersonic jet bombers raided a highly secure LTTE military base located in the thick jungles east or Iranamadu today morning. The target (identified as X-Ray Base) and the surrounding area had been declared as a 'high security zone' by the LTTE. According to military intelligence, X-Ray base is the nerve center of LTTE operations in Kilinochchi district.

Meanwhile unconfirmed military intelligence reports suggest that an extremely high profile LTTE target was present in the base at the time of bombing. This claim however is unverified as of now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2 SLA injured in LTTE attack : Thanamalwila

A suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) guerilla attack team opened fire on SLA soldiers engaged in a search operation in Sirinandapura, in Thanamalwila area at around 12.30 P.M today (22nd). Two soldiers were reported to be injured in the incident. According to SLA sources the injuries are not critical. Soldiers were ambushed while they were looking for the whereabouts of tigers using a K9 unit.

This is the second time in two days that security forces personnel made contact with the LTTE team in Thanamalwila region. A police patrol was attacked yesterday (21st) night at around 7.45PM in Kithulkotte. 3 policemen died in the incident. 

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Nandimithra Brigade" to be expanded as civilian killings in border villages increase

It has only been a week since several civilians in Thanamalvila village were brutally killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The same guerilla attack team which exploded a cilivian transport killing 27 are suspected to be behind the attacks. The authorities are worried by the fact that this LTTE unit is still at large in the area. They are now forced hunt down the tiger team in the vast jungle terrain and to take precautionary measures against future attacks at the same time.

A large number of soldiers from the army's Special Forces (SF) brigade, Police Special Task Force (STF) and the Civil Defense Force (CDF) have been deployed to Monaragala area following the attacks. According to our sources the total number of security forces deployed in this area now exceeds 4000. Meanwhile plans have been made to increase the manpower of the Nandimithra Brigade by 2000. Nandimithra Brigade is a part of the CDF which is trained under the direct supervision of SLA Special Forces and Commando regiment. The current manpower of this unit is below 500. Additionally, 1000 more regular CDF personnel too will be recruited from the border villages in Monaragala district.

Meanwhile in the northern front, soldiers from the army's 55th division launched a pre emptive attack on LTTE bunker lines in Jaffna, today at around 2 AM in the morning. 4 LTTE bunkers in the Nagarkovil FDL along with another 20 bunkers surrounding A-9 main road in Muhamalai and Kilali regions were razed to the ground. Since there was no intention of holding on to the bunker lines, troops returned to original positions upon completion of the mission. This area (Nagarkovil/ Muhamalai/ Kilali) is referred to as the "National Front" (Jathika Peramuna) by the army due to its high significance in defense of the Jaffna peninsula. 

On Mannar front, 58th division made further advances towards Adampan town center amidst LTTE resistance. Area surrounding the Adampan lake is now under SLA control. 58th division is steadily marching towards the major tiger stronghold of Viduthalaithiv which's fall could seriously affect tigers in the Pooneryn sector.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Special Forces celebrate 21st birthday

Special Forces (SF) of the Sri Lanka army celebrated their 21st birthday on the 5th of January at Maduru Oya SF training base. Army commander for Jaffna, major general G.A. Chandrasiri, attended the event as chief guest. Ever since its inception in 1986, the Special Forces regiment improved continually and has become one of the most powerful entities within the army.

Special Forces was initially raised with 2 officers and 38 soldiers by Brigadier G. Hettiarachchi (now retired). Initially it was known as CTT (Combat Tracker Team) and then as RDF (Rapid Deployment Force). RDF scored huge successes in Operation 'Vadamarachchi' leading to the inception of SF. Another key figure in the formation of SF was Colonel A.F. Lafir (PWV, RSP, PWP *) . He commanded the 1st special forces regiment till his death in 1996. Colonel Lafir was killed while leading a 250 man volunteer SF team in Operation Thrivida Pahara which's aim was to relive Mullaithiv SLA base which was besieged by LTTE.

SF enjoys the honor of taking part in every major military offensive since 1986. From Long Range Surveillance (LRS) missions to offensive raids, Special Forces units are used to perform specialized missions in operations. As of today, there are 3 Special Forces regiments:

1st Special Forces regiment (1SF)

Established in 1986, the first special forces regiment consists of the most experienced SF units in the army. 1SF is usually used in ground operations. The Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) equipped with motorcycles is a speciality of 1SF.

2nd Special Forces regiment (2SF)

2SF was established in 1994 as dual purpose unit specialized in both ground based and sea borne operations. It has its own assault boats, diver teams, underwater demolitions unit and boarding teams as well as squadrons specialized in ground based warfare.

3rd Special Force regiment (3SF) 

3SF was established in 1994 as a sea borne special forces unit. However with the rapid growth of Navy's Special Boat Squadron, 3SF no longer takes part in sea borne ops. Instead, it performs special missions such as deep penetration attacks and ground based intelligence gathering behind enemy lines. 3SF's Alpha Squad has been extremely successful in these areas and is feared by the LTTE.

A rapid increase in SF recruitments was seen in 2007 probably due to the wide media publicity given to the capture of Vakarai, Thoppigala and several other major LTTE bases in the eastern province. SF spearheaded these operations with outstanding success. However the same media publicity almost cost the lives of Alpha Squad members when their identities were compromised in a local news bulletin.

*PWV - Parama Weera Wibhooshana, RSP - Rana Soora Padakkama, RWP - Rana Wickrama Padakkama

Saturday, January 19, 2008

New faces in Special Boat Squadron (SBS)

A new batch of soldiers joined the Navy's Special Boat Squadron (SBS) after the passing out parade held at Nipuna advanced naval training center in Boossa yesterday. SBS is the navy's elite formation equivalent to the army's Special Forces regiment and is modeled after the likes of Special Boat Service of the Royal Navy and S.E.A.L. of the U.S. Navy. 


Image: Soldiers of the SBS taking part in the Independence Day Parade - 2007

SBS is a somewhat recent addition to the SLN. It was established in 1993 with 75 sailors and three officers. By 2008 SBS has grown into a fully fledged fighting formation specialized in maritime counter-terrorism, recovery of hijacked vessels, deep penetration attacks, amphibious assaults, underwater demolitions, VIP protection, beach reconnaissance and combat swimmer missions. Although the unit is formally under SLN command, it has on many occasions carried out coordinated strikes with the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) against the Liberation tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

SBS was extensively used during the 2nd and 3rd Eelam War in almost every major military operation. They are noted for spearheading the difficult operation that helped recapture of Pooneryn SLN base which the tigers had just overrun. However SBS's last major operation in the 3rd Eelam War, Operation Agni Kheela, was a disaster. The politically motivated operation resulted in the death of nearly 300 soldiers and SBS too suffered heavy casualties.

In the 4th Eelam war SBS has largely been used to attack and hunt down LTTE elements in the jungles north of Trincomalee. Some SBS teams also took part in several Blue water missions of the navy that targeted LTTE arms ships. SBS has vastly improved under the command of Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and scored some major successes with their eastern operations.

Now with the CFA officially dead and at a time when SLA had publicly laid siege to Wanni, SBS will again have a busy time on their hands.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

SLAF steps up air strikes over Wanni

Sri Lank Air Force (SLAF) warplanes bombed LTTE held Wanni heartland for the second time in two days since the CFA was officially nullified.

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First of these airstrikes was carried out yesterday (16th) at around 2.30PM. The target was an LTTE weapons factory south of Puthukuduirippu. According to Military Intelligence, the factory was used to mass produce Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). LTTE are known to invent locally made weapons variants such as the "Baba" mortar, Pasilan 2000 (improved version of Baba mortar) and customized land mines. According to Air Force sources, both the manufacturing facility and the storage building has been destroyed in the air strike.

Second air strike was carried out today (17th) on an LTTE safe house in Jayapuram, Kilinochchi district. LTTE casualty details are not available as of now. In an interesting development, pro rebel stated that "Liberation Tigers anti-aircraft guns fired at Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) warplanes that bombed a civilian area..... ". According to the article, SLAF bombers struck a civilian area. However it is a well known fact that LTTE does not deploy AA guns in areas that is of no military significance, especially given the limited availability of such weapons. Therefore the credibility of Tamilnet's claim is arguable. LTTE does have several 14.5mm AA guns which can hit low flying bombers and there have been instances where SLAF's MiG-27s received minimal damages from these while flying low. However we can confirm that no damages were done to SLAF planes on this occasion.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Blood needed

With soaring casualties from today's bomb blast in Helagama, Monaragala general hospital is facing a severe blood shortage.

Required blood types are given below:

  • O - Positive
  • O - Negative

If you are willing to donate, please go to the nearest district or general hospital as soon as possible.

For more information contact the blood bank hotline 0777272985

Explosion in Monaragala

A bus transporting civilians has been the target of a bomb blast. According to information available, the blast has occurred near Helama, along the Buttala-Niyadella road at around 7.30 A.M. A large number of civilians including schoolchildren were reported to be inside the bus at the time of blast.

Correction: The bomb has been planted inside the bus. It is not a claymore explosion.

DefenceNet previously reported increased LTTE activity in Monaragala district. The article can be found here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

1983-2008: 4 Ceasefires, 4 Eelam Wars

In a few more hours, on the 16th of January, the cease-fire agreement signed between the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will become invalid and the 4th Eelam War will officially begin. In the three decade long war, there has been four major cease-fire agreements between the warring parties. Each and every one of such agreements has ended without lasting peace for the island nation.

The first official ceasefire between LTTE and GOSL was signed back in 1987. However this only lasted for a few months. In October 1987, the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) arrested 17 sea tigers who were transporting arms  using a large vessel from India to Point Pedro in Sri Lanka. Repeated LTTE requests to release the prisoners were turned down by then Defense Minister late Mr. Lalith Athulathmudali. The issue reached its climax when 12 of the arrested LTTE cadres committed suicide by consuming cyanide while they were being transported to a prison in Colombo. LTTE retaliated by torturing and killing 8 Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers who were under their captivity. Mutilated bodies of the slain soldiers were publicly displayed in the city of Jaffna. This incident marked the end of the ceasefire and the 1st Eelam War commenced soon afterwards.

Next CFA was signed between the government and LTTE in 1990.  LTTE operatives were brought to Colombo via SLAF helicopters for peace talks with the then president late Mr. Ranasinghe Premadasa. However peace did not last long. LTTE officially pulled out of the CFA on 11th of June 1990, alleging that a group of SLA soldiers assaulted a tailor (who was also a member of the LTTE) in the eastern town of Batticaloa. Immediately after their withdrawal from CFA, LTTE fighters under the command of Karuna Amman launched multiple raids on police posts in Batticaloa, massacring over 600 policemen. This incident officially declared the start of second Eelam War.

In 1994, 2nd Eelam war temporarily ended when Chandrika Bandaranayake invited the LTTE for peace talks shortly after her victory in the presidential election. Several rounds of peace talks were held but progress in devising a solution that could bring lasting peace for the island was was extremely slow.  On the 15th of April, LTTE launched dual suicide attacks on Sri Lanka Navy warships SLNS Sooraya and SLNS Ranasuru anchored in Trincomalee harbor. Both the ships were critically damaged in the incident. 3rd Eelam War which commenced soon afterwards saw some of the bloodiest battles in the conflict's history.

War raged on for seven years until the current CFA was signed in February 2002. Although it continued to hold on paper, tension between the two parties has been high since late 2002. Army's military intelligence wing suffered a setback during this period when 81 of its operatives were assassinated by LTTE pistol gang operatives. The LTTE also suffered a major setback in this period when one of its senior cadres, Colonel Karuna, separated along with 4000 cadres and military equipment. The Sri Lanka Air Force began flying tit-for-tat sorties on LTTE positions on the day the rebels attempted to assassinate the country's military commander using a suicide bomber.

Army launched its first offensive since 2002 when a key waterway which supplied water to 30000 farmers, was blocked by LTTE units in the area. The drawn out offensive eventually captured the Mavil Aru anicut. LTTE's next move was unprecedented; they launched a military operation into Muttur (eastern province) and surrounding army bases (August 2006). Muttur was in LTTE hands for over a day till the army fought its way back and took it under complete control. Another attack was simultaneously launched on Jaffna defense lines. By this time Jaffna was isolated from all MSR (Main Supply Routes) with Trincomalee harbor and Palaly airbase rendered useless due to heavy LTTE artillery shelling. On the first day of fighting in Jaffna, LTTE units broke through army defenses and advanced nearly a kilometer into SLA held territory. Later the army's U.S. trained 53rd division inflicted heavy casualties on LTTE forcing them to abandon the offensive. Army's counterattack not only recaptured areas that were lost but overran the 1st LTTE defense line at Muhamalai in September 2006. Later the military launched fresh offensives to capture all major LTTE bases in the eastern province. These operations were largely successful and saw the fall of eastern tiger enclaves such as Sampoor, Vakarai and Thoppigala.

Now, by 2008, the army has opened three fronts near entry points to Wanni LTTE heartland. 57th, 58th and 59th offensive divisions have made inroads to Wanni from Mannar, Vavuniya and Weli Oya respectively while the elite 53rd division and 55th division have kept pressure on LTTE formations from the north. Military commander has just declared that the operation to overrun LTTE bases in Wanni has officially begun. LTTE has expressed its willingness to commit to the CFA but at the same time some its senior commanders have vowed to crush the army. With all these new developments, the cease fire agreement ends tomorrow (16th) and the undeclared 4th Eelam War will officially commence. Major battles are on the horizon and they will decide what the future holds for Sri Lanka and Liberation Tigers and Tamil Eelam.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fighting in Mannar, Vavuniya

More than 50 LTTE cadres and 10 SLA soldiers have been killed during last two days of fighting along Mannar and Vavuniya defense lines. Over 30 soldiers and an unknown number of LTTE cadres are reported to be inured.

Fighting erupted in Vavuniya when LTTE resisted a two pronged limited offensive launched by the army. Soldiers of the 57th division moved ahead of their forward defense lines to launch attacks on LTTE positions in the area. At least 25 LTTE cadres were killed in the firefights that erupted soon afterwards. SLA too suffered casualties while crossing the no man's land as it had been heavily mined and booby trapped by the tigers.

Mannar front also heated up when defending LTTE cadres clashed with soldiers of 58th division. 58th division (also known as the Task Force 01), under the command of Brigadier Shamindra Silva, has been gradually moving towards the LTTE enclave of Vilathithikulam.

Meanwhile LTTE's intelligence has warned the outfit's leadership of a possible army invasion through the Weli-Oya sector. Although this has been LTTE's speculation for nearly 6 months, the army is yet to start a mass troop movement into Wanni through Weli-Oya. LTTE have been strengthening their defenses in the area ahead of Temple Hill amry base with additional defence lines being built and trenches being dug. SLA's 59th division has been strategically deployed in this area. 59th division, commanded by Brigadier Nanda Udawaththa, is the newest offensive division to be raised by the army.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Explosion in Colombo fort railway station

An explosion has taken place in the fort railway station. According to available information, the explosion has occurred near the 4th platform.

Update: Only one casualty reported so far. A civilian with minor injuries has been admitted to hospital.

Fighting continues in Parappakandal

Heavy fighting was reported in areas ahead of Parappakandal for the third consecutive day where Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched a counterattack to regain lost territory in last week's battles. A group of SLA soldiers setting up defenses in newly captured areas came under an LTTE attack at around 1.30PM today (11th). The attack, which involved between 30-40  LTTE cadres, was successfully defended by the army. Two SLA personnel were killed and four more were injured in the incident while 8 LTTE cadres who took part in the counterattack have been killed.

LTTE has been repeatedly launching attacks on troops deployed in this area with the intention of recapturing lost ground. Although these operations have had little success in regaining territory, they have helped slow down (but not halt) the army advance into LTTE held territory in Mannar.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Army advances ahead of Parappakandal

Fighting was reported along the Wanni defense lines for the past week where Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fiercely resisted several SLA advances into their territory. Heaviest of these battles was reported in the general area of Parappakandal in Mannar district. After overrunning the LTTE frontline in this area one week ago, troops have been trying to move further into LTTE held territory towards Wanni heartland. Even though these attempts were met with heavy resistance, SLA was able to break through several LTTE defensive positions in this area after prolonged firefights. 5 soldiers have been killed in these battles and another 14 have been wounded. At least 15 LTTE cadres are confirmed to be killed and another 30 more are wounded. By yesterday, security forces had advanced as much as one kilometer into LTTE territory ahead of Parappakandal. Troops consolidating defenses in newly captured areas came under heavy LTTE artillery fire yesterday (09th) night. 6 soldiers were injured in this incident and were rushed to the hospital.

Pro LTTE media once again stated that the army offensive was "repulsed". This is completely false. Although there were occasions where the operations were temporarily halted due to heavy resistance, they were later resumed after regrouping and employing different strategies which best suited the situation. And it must be said that all these "offensives" are small group based attacks. So far there has not been any mass troop movement into Wanni.

Even though fighting has been going on for several months, both sides have not yet unleashed their full strength. LTTE has not largely exposed their hard core cadres to battle. According to military intelligence, their elite formations have not been seriously affected by the fighting and are largely intact. However it has been a different story for LTTE's mainstream units; they have undoubtedly suffered at the hands of the army. SLA too has several weapons they have still not used. Units of the Mechanized Infantry Division, which is the latest addition to the elite 53rd division, are yet to enter the battlefield. Newly raised 59th division is undergoing special training in the Weli-Oya sector. In addition to these, 3rd commando regiment too is now being retrained with long range surveillance (LRS) capabilities. In the meantime SLA has started yet another recruitment campaign; the first in year 2008. This time the goal is 15000 new recruits. If this goal is met, it would bring the army's total manpower close to 200000. Latest recruitment drive follows a a successful campaign last year (2007) in which more than 30000 personnel joined the army.

All above statistics point to one direction; heaviest battles of the 4th Eelam War are yet to be fought.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Explosion near Lake House building

An explosion has occurred near the Lake House building in Colombo. According to reports there are no casualties.

Update 2: A parcel bomb placed inside a phone booth near the Regent flats went off at 7.50PM today (8th) causing a loud explosion. No civilian casualties or damages to vehicles reported.

Minister D.M Dassanayake killed in claymore blast at Ja-Ela

Sri Lanka's minister of national building Mr. D.M Dasanayake has died due to the serious nature of injuries he received in the claymore blast earlier today [see previous article]. Vehicle escorting Mr Dassanayake was hit by a claymore mine set off by suspected Tamil tigers today morning at 10.45 AM near Ja-Ela Rukmani Devi junction. The minister who was critically wounded was immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Ragama hospital. Due to the critical nature of shrapnel wounds received in the blast, he passed away approximately one and a half hours later at 12.20 PM.

10 other civilians including the minister's bodyguard have been injured in the incident. Two of the injured are in critical condition.

The Colombo- Negombo road has been closed to all traffic subsequent to the blast. This road which leads to the country's main international airport, is used by many VIP' daily. As of now it is still not clear if Mr. Dassanayake, who had no strong involvement in the Sri Lankan conflict, was the actual target of the blast.

Claymore explosion in Ja-Ela targeting VIP escort

Vehicle escorting minister of nation building Mr. D. M. Dasanayaka has been hit by a claymore explosion near Ja-Ela Rukmani devi junction at 10.45 AM today. The minister has suffered critical injuries in the blast. 10 civilians have also been injured.

Update: Minister D.M. Dasanayake has died due to the injuries he received in the blast.

Court verdicts and national security

A week ago, the Supreme court of Sri Lanka ordered the defense secretary to remove all permanent road blocks in the city of Colombo. Supreme court issued the order after hearing a FR petition filed by a civilian. This controversial court verdict which was subject to much debate, has nevertheless been implemented and most (if not all) permanent check points in Colombo have now been removed. 

Today (7th) another restriction was imposed by the supreme court in a hearing related to the FR petition. According to the latest court verdict, security forces (excluding police) are prohibited from searching houses between 9PM and 6AM. If any searches are to be made during this time, security forces should be accompanied by a police officer from the appropriate police division.

Although the removal of road blocks have minimized the disturbances caused to civilian life, it is needless to say that both the above decisions have threatened national security to some degree. Currently the security forces are forced to use random roadblocks to check vehicles inbound to Colombo. Success of this method is arguable. And the latest court decision will prevent them from carrying out rapid search operations based on real time intelligence information. If the LTTE operatives use this window of opportunity to smuggle explosives into Colombo, consequences will undoubtedly be far worse than having permanent road blocks in place.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

LTTE military intelligence wing leader killed in LRRP strike

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) intelligence wing suffered a setback today when it's "military intelligence wing" leader Charles (also known as Shanmuganathan Ravishankar) was killed in by a claymore explosion set off by the army's Deep Penetration Unit. Self styled "Colonel" Charles and 3 other senior LTTE cadres were killed when the army's Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) detonated a claymore mine targeting their van.

The attack took place in the Paalmadhu area which is currently under LTTE control. The LRRP had once again managed to infiltrate into LTTE territory through a heated up and alerted front line, unnoticed by the tigers. Infiltrations of this type are termed as virtually impossible.

Although pro rebel media termed the attack as a 'random' strike, military intelligence has been tracking Charle's movements for a while. At the time of his death, Charles was tasked with leading an LTTE fighting formation to halt the army advance in the Mannar region. This was in addition to his intelligence wing duties.

LTTE Leopards, Black Tigers in Colombo for more attacks

Year 2008 has been neither a quite nor a calm one for the Sri Lankans. It has only been 5 days into the new year and already two major incidents of violence have been reported in the country's capital; Colombo. Latest Military Intelligence (MI) reports suggest that this trend of violence is not likely to change in the near future.

According to MI reports, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have sent a team of 40 cadres to Colombo in order to plan and carry out attacks on military and economic targets. Senior LTTE womens' cadre and senior TOSSIE operative "Mani Mekhala" has aided the LTTE attack teams to move into Colombo through multiple routes.

Around 12 of these cadres are believed to be black tigers (suicide cadres). Others are said to be cadres from the Leopard brigade (also known as "Chiruthaigal"). Leopard commandos are known as the fiercest fighting unit within the LTTE outfit. This unit includes experienced cadres from other LTTE formations (Imran Pandiyan, Charles Anthony, etc.) as well as youth from LTTE managed orphanages who are given extensive training. The Leopards are best known for spearheading the Katunayake airbase attack back in 2001.

Colombo harbor, World Trade Center twin towers, Kelanithissa power plant, Katunayake airbase, Kolonnawa tank complex, Sapugaskanda complex and many other military and economic structures are among the potential targets. MI has warned of possible attacks on VIPs as well and has subsequently requested several senior politicians to limit public appearances.

These cadres are now believed to be staying in various lodges scattered across Colombo awaiting further instructions from Wanni command. In most LTTE operations, the attack teams and weapons are known to be assembled in the last possible moment to avoid capture by the security forces. 

Friday, January 4, 2008

Army overruns LTTE bunker line amidst heavy resistance

Soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army yesterday overran a key LTTE bunker line at Palleikuli amidst heavy resistance by the tigers. Part of the LTTE forward defense line north of Mannar along with 7 fortified bunkers are now under the complete control of the army. According to military intelligence, six LTTE cadres have perished in battle and another 10 more have been wounded. 1 SLA soldier is reported to be killed and another 6 soldiers have been wounded.

During the past week, the army was able to advance few hundred meters (in one occasion 800 meters) into LTTE controlled territory through several locations along the Wanni FDL (Forward Defense Line). More than 40 LTTE cadres are reported to be killed in a number of sporadic clashes that occurred when small attack groups of the army assaulted LTTE frontline positions. 11 SLA soldiers too have been killed and 20 more have been wounded in these incidents.

Several strategically important locations are among the newly captured areas. Task Force 01 (58th division) commanded by Brigadier Shamindra Silva wrested control of Uliyankulam entry point few days ago while the 57th division took complete control of the village of Thampanai in Vavuniya after weeks of fighting. Two of LTTE's operations centers in the frontline (Vietnam base and Five-Four base) were overrun in these battles.

The army is exploiting a known weakness in the LTTE outfit in Wanni battle. LTTE's limited manpower keeps them from fighting simultaneously in multiple fronts. The army on the other hand is doing the exact opposite. They have already opened two fronts In Mannar and Vavuniya and have strategically placed the 59th division in Weli-Oya. This deployment somewhat confirmed LTTE's fears of an army advance into Mullaithiv through Weli-Oya sector. Due to the shortage of manpower, LTTE's sea tiger wing members too have been ordered to man positions in the frontline bunkers.

The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) stepped up airstrikes on LTTE positions in Mullaithiv and Mannar during the past few days. LTTE targets in Alampil and Viduthalaithiv were attacked and it is now confirmed that two of LTTE's regional leaders perished in one such attack.

Meanwhile a SLA 2nd Lieutenant wounded in Slave Island claymore explosion succumbed to his injuries today morning. The death toll of the mine blast has now risen to 6. Out of the 6 killed, 2 are school children. 27 were wounded in the incident including 16 civilians.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Government to pull out from the Ceasefire agreement

The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has decided to pull out of the cease-fire agreement (CFA) with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The move, when implemented, would mark the official end of the nearly 5 year long agreement which has been in tatters since mid 2003.

Latest move by the GOSL coincides with a roadside claymore explosion which occurred in a civilian populated area killing 5 and injuring 28.

Blast near Slave Island

A bus transporting military personnel was hit by a suspected roadside claymore explosion at 9.35 AM today morning killing 4 and injuring 24. 14 civilians and 10 Sri Lanka Army (SLA) personnel are among the wounded. The military bus, another private bus and a three wheeler are among the vehicles damaged in the incident. Buildings belonging to the nearby Hotel Nippon too has received some damage due to the explosion.

The bus, transporting 13 security forces personnel, was en route to the military hospital when it was hit by the explosion. It's suspected that a claymore mine was set off targeting the bus.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

T.Maheshwaran shot dead

United National Party lawmaker T. Maheshwaran was shot dead by unidentified gunmen near the Shivam Kovil in Kotahena today (1st) at 10 A.M. Mr Maheshwaran who received critical gunshot wounds was rushed to the Colombo hospital. However he succumbed to his injuries approximately half an hour later. Another person who was with the parliamentarian at the time of shooting too has been seriously injured in the incident.

Update: 1 more civilian has been killed and 10 others have been wounded. 4 women and a child among the wounded.