Friday, September 03, 2004

Village official shot dead in Batticaloa [TamilNet, July 09, 2004 15:14 GMT]

Unidentified gunmen Friday shot dead a village officer in Kalladi Uppodai, on the southern outskirts of Batticaloa town. Mr. Kunjithamby Sivarasa 47, was killed at his home around 5.30 p.m. by two gunmen who came on motorbike, Police said. Mr. Sivarasa was the village officer for Karadiyanaaru in the LTTE controlled hinterland of the Batticaloa District.
Police said the village officer was shot at point blank range four times. Five empty casings of 9 mm rounds were recovered from the scene of the murder, Police said. Mr.Sivarasa left Batticaloa during the 42 day rebellion of LTTE renegade commander Mr.Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan(Karuna). He returned to the eastern town after the renegade LTTE commander fled Batticaloa, sources in Arayampathy said. However his family could not be contacted friday.

Karuna cadre killed, two injured [TamilNet, July 14, 2004 12:56 GMT]

The Liberation Tigers in Batticaloa said that a key associate of renegade commander 'Karuna' was killed in an ambush by one of their special jungle warfare units in Batticaloa Wednesday afternoon around 2.45 p.m. "We ambushed a small group of the paramilitary Karuna Group carrying small arms upon information provided by civilians. We recovered the body of a key person of the Karuna Group. A search is on to apprehend the others", an LTTE military officer said.
The Karuna Group cadres were ambushed south of the road from Batticaloa to Polannaruwa and Colombo near Punanai, LTTE sources said. Two Karuna cadres were seriously injured in the ambush, the LTTE officer said.
Tigers charge that Karuna cadres are operating from Sri Lanka army camps close to the Batticaloa-Polannaruwa border.

Two Karuna militants executed [TamilNet, July 09, 2004 12:51 GMT]

Two militants belonging to the Karuna group were executed by the Liberation Tigers in Illupadichchenai in Batticaloa, local Tamil media said.
Balasundaram Sritharan (23) and Thillaiampalam Suthanthirarajan were arrested earlier on suspicion of carrying out attacks on LTTE members and supporters in the east.
The reports said that they were captured with weapons and equipment supplied by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA).
The Tigers say the Sri Lanka armed forces are waging a proxy war against them through Tamil paramilitaries, including gunmen from Karuna’s group, formed in the wake of the collapse of his rebellion against the LTTE.
The LTTE says the Sri Lankan government is giving sanctuary and support to Karuna (Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan). Colombo admits the armed forces helped Karuna escape from Batticaloa-Ampara in April, but denies the government had a hand in this.

Armed Tamil youth arrested in Buddhist temple [TamilNet, July 05, 2004 18:36 GMT]

Hingurakgoda Police said Tuesday morning that the arrested youth had in their possession three T- 56, three T - 84 type assault rifles and a T - 81 special assault rifle. They also had six hand grenades. A van and a car in which they had traveled were also seized from the Bubula temple, Police said.
Sri Lanka army's US trained Special Forces were camped by the Bubula Buddhist temple until recently, sources said. The Special Forces have been involved in many deep penetration operations into LTTE held areas in the Batticaloa district in the past.
The chief monk of the Bubula temple (Bodhirukkarama Vihara) was a candidate of the JHU in the Polannaruwa District at the elections to Parliament in April this year.
Police took into custody fourteen Tamil youth armed with several assault rifles from a Buddhist temple in the village of Bubula in Hingurakgoda in the Pollannaruwa District Monday evening. The chief monk of the Bubula temple is a member of Jathika Hela Urumaya(JHU), the Sinhala Buddhist nationalist party. Polannaruwa borders the Batticaloa District. The Bubula monk told Police that the Tamil youth were bound for the east but that he was unaware that they were armed.
The monk claimed that the youth were sent to him by the JHU headquarters in Colombo, Police sources said.
Meanwhile, around midnight a source at the Hingurakgoda Police said the arrested youth were yet to be brought to the station.
Meanwhile, media sources in Hingurakgoda said frantic moves were afoot Monday evening to get youth released.
They are suspected to members of a paramilitary which is backed by Sri Lanka army intelligence, the media sources said.
The Tigers have accused this paramilitary of murdering their cadres, a journalist and an academic in Batticaloa.

‘Suspected Karuna cadres released on bail [TamilNet, July 06, 2004 14:27 GMT]

The Hingurakgoda magistrate Tuesday released fourteen Tamil youth who were arrested with assault rifles and bombs by Sri Lanka Police in a village Buddhist temple in Hingurakgoda Monday evening. They were enlarged on personal surety bail, Police said. Possession of illegal weapons is a unbailable offense under Sri Lankan law.
Sinhala nationalist media in Colombo did not report the arrest.
Meanwhile, the head of LTTE's political division in Batticaloa, Mr. E. Kousalyan said that he had conveyed message to Deputy Inspector General (Eastern Range), Mr. Nevil Wijesingha, confirming the identities of the fourteen youth as members of the renegade commander Karuna's group.
Police sources said that the released youth, who did not know any Singhalese were escorted out of court by persons from the Sri Lanka army intelligence.
''Now it is very obvious that the Sri Lankan authorities are conniving with their military intelligence and Police to gather, arm and send stragglers of the Karuna group to murder innocents and sabotage the peace. ''What happened today is a travesty of justice'', Mr. Kousalyan said.
He further pointed out that a group of LTTE cadres who were arrested by Sri Lanka Police with a box of cartridges in Batticaloa in early 2003 are still in custody because the courts refuse to grant them bail.
Police sources in Hingurakgoda who were involved in the arrest of the armed youth said that they (the youth) had told them that they were on their way to the Thoppigala jungles in the Baticaloa District. LTTE has military bases in this region.

‘Jailed Karuna associate in SLA psy-ops’ - LTTE [TamilNet, July 04, 2004 07:18 GMT]

The Liberation Tigers in Batticaloa Sunday charged that the Sri Lanka army intelligence was providing telephone facilities to an associate of renegade commander Mr. Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan (Karuna) who is in prison in the eastern town for possessing weapons illegally. “We have clear proof now that ‘Satchi Master’ is giving phone interviews from his cell in the Batticaloa jail to a Tamil weekly and a radio station which are backed by Sri Lanka military intelligence," a senior LTTE official in the eastern district said Sunday.
"Satchi Master is giving these phone interviews and statements under the name Maran," the LTTE official said.
“As almost all his associates have abandoned ‘Karuna’, his backers in the Sri Lanka military intelligence have had no other option but to masquerade a prisoner as the new spokesman for the renegade," he said.
“Sri Lanka army intelligence is compelling Batticaloa jail officials to provide telephone facilities to ‘Satchi Master’ for giving live interviews to the radio station which is being run with the full backing of the Sri Lanka army’s Directorate of Military Intelligence and the Directorate of Psychological Operations," he added.
Meanwhile, Col. Ramesh, LTTE’s special commander for the Batticaloa-Amparai District, said: “We are carefully monitoring and studying these developments. It would be prudent on the part of the Sri Lankan military not to mistake our patience and judicious approach for inaction."
The Tigers sacked ‘Satchi Master’ (Mr. Kanapathipillai Mahendran) from their military in the Amparai district in 2002, accusing him of embezzling funds entrusted to him for purchasing supplies for their camps in the Kanjikudichcha Aaru jungles.
Soon after declaring that he was separating from the LTTE, the renegade regional leader ‘Karuna’ recalled ‘Satchi Master’ and made him military commander for the Amparai District.
Police in Kattankudy, five kilometres south of Batticaloa arrested ‘Satchi Master’ and four of his men while travelling in a van with weapons and grenades in March.
Police sources in Batticaloa said that Satchi Master’s vehicle was apprehended in Batticaloa town the same day but was released after an officer from the local unit of the Sri Lanka army intelligence intervened and secured their release.
But Kattankudy Police had sought a written request from the SLA intelligence when it intervened again to seek the release of ‘Satchi Master’ and his colleagues later that day.
The four were remanded when they were produced in Batticaloa courts on 31 March 2004. As there is no bail for the illegal possession of dangerous weapons, their remand continues to be extended.

‘SLA intelligence behind Batticaloa murders, confusion’ - LTTE [TamilNet, June 28, 2004 13:08 GMT]

“We have very reliable evidence now that the Sri Lanka army is using Karuna as a pretext to murder and to create mayhem in Batticaloa. We have indubitable proof that he is working with the Sri Lankan military intelligence. The Liberation Tigers will not recommence meetings with the Sri Lanka army while the Sri Lankan government and its military continue to harbour Karuna and continue to instigate murder and confusion in Batticaloa. We made this clear to the head of the monitoring mission today”, said Mr. S.P Thamilchelvan speaking to the press Monday in Kilinochchi.
SLMM LTTE meeting
“There have also been problems and confusion in connection with the cease fire agreement after this government came to power– particularly regarding land and sea movements. We told the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that we cannot accept the attitude of the Sri Lankan government in this regard”, the head of the LTTE’s political division said, answering question at the conclusion of a meeting with the head of the SLMM, Maj. Gen. (ret) Trond Furuhovde Monday at the LTTE’s peace secretariat in Kilinochchi.
Responding to a question about the future in the light of these developments, he said, “The future of the ceasefire agreement and the peace talks is not in our hands now. It is in the hands of the Sri Lanka army, SLMM and the Norwegian facilitators”.
“We have now confirmed beyond any doubt that the army is using Karuna as a pretext to murder and to create confusion in Batticaloa. The cadres who were with Karuna under the protection of the Sri Lankan military intelligence have revealed many facts about what really took place. It is also confirmed that the Sri Lankan military intelligence was behind the killing of journalist Nadeasan and the Batticaloa university academic Thambaiah”, Mr. Thamilchelvan said.
Head of the Thamil Eelam Police Service, Mr. B. Nadesan was associated with Mr. Thamilchelvan at the meeting with the SLMM Friday.

Bubulla Vihare Chief Incumbent injured in grenade attack [TamilNet, July 08, 2004 17:12 GMT]

Venerable Lendigele Sudassi, Chief Incumbent of the Bodhirukkaharamaya Temple in Bubulla in Hingurakgoda where last Tuesday midnight the Hingurakgoda Police arrested fourteen suspected Karuna faction Tamil youths with automatic weapons, was seriously injured in a grenade attack that took place Thursday around 7.30 p.m., police said.
He was admitted to the Hingurakgoda hospital immediately. However sources in Hingurakgoda said he is to be transferred to Colombo late Thursday night as his condition is reported critical, sources said.
Venerable Sudassi is a member of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and unsuccessfully contested the last general election on the JHU ticket in the Polonnaruwa district.
It is to be recalled that on a tip-off a special police team led by Inspector C.D.Madanayake had rushed to Bubulla on Tuesday midnight arrested a group of Tamils youths in the Bodhirukkaharamaya Temple. Later Inspector Madanayake said they recovered three T-56 rifles, one T-84 rifle, three hand grenades, nine mobile phones and a stock of pharmaceutucals among other things. It is reported that the Police also seized a car and van in which the group had arrived to the Vihare, sources said.
However all the fourteen Tamil youths were later allowed by the Polonnaruwa Additional District Judge Mr.K.Sivapathasuntharan on personal bail.

LTTE political activist shot dead [TamilNet, July 05, 2004 05:42 GMT]

A political division cadre of the Liberation Tigers was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Vanthaarumoolai, about 20 kilometres north of Batticaloa, Monday morning around 10 a.m. A person who was riding with him on a motorbike was wounded in the attack. He was rushed to the hospital. Residents said that the body of the dead LTTE political activist was lying on the Batticaloa – Valaichenai main road which is regularly patrolled by the Sri Lanka army.
The incident took place between Sri Lanka army camps at the Kaluwankerni Junction and Vembu, residents said.
Earlier this morning LTTE's Political Head for Batticaloa town, Senathy, and one of his companion were shot and wounded near the Arasady junction.

LTTE political official shot in Batticaloa [TamilNet, July 05, 2004 04:11 GMT]

An official of the political division of the Liberation Tigers was shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen in Batticaloa town Monday morning around 9.15 a.m. The gunmen shot Mr. ‘Senathy’, LTTE’s political division head for Batticaloa town and its environs at the busy Arasadi Junction while he was riding a motorbike with a colleague who was also injured. Mr. Senathy was rushed to the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital. Mr.Senathi's condition is serious, hospital sources said.
“The Arasady Junction is surrounded by four high security Sri Lanka Police camps, including the office of the Superintendent of Police for the Batticaloa district. There is a Police camp in the Public Library building at Arasadi Junction. Therefore the gunmen could not have been there without the collusion of a section of the Sri Lankan military,” an LTTE official in the eastern town charged.
‘Mr. Senathy has three gunshot wounds. His colleague has a gunshot injury on his hand”, Batticaloa hospital told TamilNet.

‘SLA intelligence behind Batticaloa murders, confusion’ - LTTE [TamilNet, June 28, 2004 13:08 GMT]

“We have very reliable evidence now that the Sri Lanka army is using Karuna as a pretext to murder and to create mayhem in Batticaloa. We have indubitable proof that he is working with the Sri Lankan military intelligence. The Liberation Tigers will not recommence meetings with the Sri Lanka army while the Sri Lankan government and its military continue to harbour Karuna and continue to instigate murder and confusion in Batticaloa. We made this clear to the head of the monitoring mission today”, said Mr. S.P Thamilchelvan speaking to the press Monday in Kilinochchi.

“There have also been problems and confusion in connection with the cease fire agreement after this government came to power– particularly regarding land and sea movements. We told the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that we cannot accept the attitude of the Sri Lankan government in this regard”, the head of the LTTE’s political division said, answering question at the conclusion of a meeting with the head of the SLMM, Maj. Gen. (ret) Trond Furuhovde Monday at the LTTE’s peace secretariat in Kilinochchi.
Responding to a question about the future in the light of these developments, he said, “The future of the ceasefire agreement and the peace talks is not in our hands now. It is in the hands of the Sri Lanka army, SLMM and the Norwegian facilitators”.
“We have now confirmed beyond any doubt that the army is using Karuna as a pretext to murder and to create confusion in Batticaloa. The cadres who were with Karuna under the protection of the Sri Lankan military intelligence have revealed many facts about what really took place. It is also confirmed that the Sri Lankan military intelligence was behind the killing of journalist Nadeasan and the Batticaloa university academic Thambaiah”, Mr. Thamilchelvan said.
Head of the Thamil Eelam Police Service, Mr. B. Nadesan was associated with Mr. Thamilchelvan at the meeting with the SLMM Friday.

Death at noon creates crack in Sri Lanka's defences [TamilNet, August 01, 2004 02:31 GMT]

Mr. Kandaiah Yoharasa alias PLOTE Mohan was the most dreaded Tamil paramilitary operative that ever worked with the Sri Lankan armed forces in their war against the Liberation Tigers. His name once evoked terror among the people of Batticaloa. He was an invaluable if not indispensable part of Sri Lanka's intelligence and counter insurgency operations against the LTTE.
Sri Lankan military and Police officers who knew him acknowledge privately that it would be very difficult to replace Mohan. "He was a very good asset", one of them said.

Mohan joined PLOTE, then a separatist Tamil militant group, in 1985 October. He was sent to South India for military training the same year. After he completed his training, Mohan, then known as Thamilchelvan, was put in charge of a PLOTE camp in Orathanadu in the district of Thanjavur (Tanjore) in Tamil Nadu.
In 1987 August he returned to northern Sri Lanka with a group of armed PLOTE cadres that camped in the village of Periyathambanai, west of Vavuniya. During a firefight between the PLOTE and LTTE, Mohan decamped and escaped to Batticaloa, abandoning his G-3 rifle.
An early school dropout, he took to herding cattle in Kothiyapulai, a hamlet west of Batticaloa where he was born and grew up.
An year later, he was recruited by Indian army intelligence in Batticaloa. The Indian military was fighting the Tigers in Sri Lanka's northeast at the time. Mohan joined the Indian military intelligence following a dispute with a relative who was a member of the LTTE.
Mohan was allegedly involved in the murder of a Catholic priest in 1989. The priest Rev. Chandra Fernando, a human rights activist and President of the Batticaloa Citizens' Committe, was disliked by the Indian army for exposing atrocities and rights violations it committed in the east.
Months later, he was accused of attempting to murder Mr. Nithiyananthan, the Batticaloa correspondent of the Tamil daily Virakesari. The journalist who survived several machete cuts and bullet wound, identified Mohan as the assailant who had hacked and shot him in the attempted murder.

(Photo: Island) But the Indian army took no action against the their man. In early 1990 he was accused of murdering 'Khalid', a PLO trained senior commander of the Tamil National Army (TNA), when the Indian military was pulling out of the northeast. (TNA was a militia propped up by the Indian army) Khalid's associates said that Mohan had killed him to rob him of the several million rupees he was carrying in bag when they were fleeing an LTTE onslaught on the TNA in the Amparai district.
Mohan joined the Sri Lanka army intelligence soon after the Indian army left.
He moved in with the Sri Lanka army when it recaptured the Batticaloa district from the Liberation Tigers in August-September 1990. Mohan and some of his former colleagues from the PLOTE set up camp in the heart of Batticaloa town in a multi storey building once owned by a Sinhala jeweller. Protected by Sri Lanka military intelligence, he and his men were involved in arrests, abductions, extortion and murder in Batticaloa, according to human rights activists who worked at great risk to their lives in the district at that time. A family in Kokkaddicholai committed suicide fearing Mohan's threats and demands for money. The incident was recorded by Dr. Patricia Lawrence, an American who was researching for her Phd in Batticaloa during this period.
In 1993, a Special Presidential Commission headed by a retired supreme court judge which inquired into massacres, rapes and murders by Sri Lanka Army and its collaborators in 1990-92, named Mohan and his military intelligence handler called Richard Dias alias Munaz as persons who were involved in the mass murder of more than 350 innocent civilians, including children and pregnant women, from the refugee camp in the Eastern University and the village of Saththurukkondaan near Batticaloa.
But the Sri Lankan government ignored the commission report and continued to nurture Mohan as an invaluable military intelligence asset.
Meanwhile, the PLOTE embarrassed by Mohan's activities and dire notoriety, said it had sacked him and totally distanced itself from him.
By now a multi millionaire, Mohan moved to Colombo following several attempts by the LTTE to assassinate him. Since then he visited Batticaloa by special helicopter provided by Sri Lanka's military intelligence to take part in or direct covert operations against the Liberation Tigers.
He was involved in several successful deep penetration operations in LTTE held areas in the east.
Mohan was also a key person in counter intelligence operations against the Tigers in Colombo. As such he worked with the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of the Police in Colombo.
That his death is a serious blow to Sri Lanka's military and intelligence establishments was quite evident from the number of apparently anxious senior Police and military officers who rushed to the spot where Mohan was shot dead at noon on Saturday.

SLA intelligence operative killed in east [TamilNet, December 10, 2001 09:23 GMT]

An operative of the Sri Lanka army intelligence was killed in a counter ambush by the Liberation Tigers near the Batticaloa town in the early hours of the morning around 3.30 a.m Monday. A soldier was wounded in the attack. The military intelligence operative was identified as Corporal K. S Satkunanathan alias 'Kuyil'. He was a member of the 'Nithi group', paramilitary sources working with the SLA said.
Three senior operatives of this military intelligence unit were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the heart of Batticaloa town on 15 November . The unit was responsible for several successful deep penetration attacks in the LTTE held western hinterland of the eastern district.
A group of soldiers from the military intelligence unit of the SLA in Batticaloa led by Corporal Kuyil were lying in ambush near a suspected crossing point in Saththurukkondaan, 3 kilometres north of the eastern town when the Tigers attacked it, sources said.
The wounded soldier was identified as K. I Kariyawasam.

PTA arrests expose covert operation - paper [TamilNet, January 08, 2002 00:49 GMT]

(News Feature) The arrest last week of members of an elite commando unit of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on suspicion they were planning to assassinate the Prime Minister has blown the cover of an important covert operation to assassinate senior members of the Liberation Tigers, the Sunday Time reported this week. The arrests of members of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) group came despite efforts by the SLA high command to prevent the raid on the soldiers’ safe house, the paper said.
Five SLA soldiers, including a captain, and a Tamil informant alleged to be a former cadre of the LTTE, along with a large quantity of weapons were taken into custody from a safe house in Athurugirya rented by the military. Along with small arms, anti-tank weapons and several claymore mines, sixty-six new LTTE uniforms were also found at the house, the paper said.
The soldiers are being detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and interrogated at a secret location in Kandy. They are all said to be held in a single room located close to an unhygienic toilet, the paper said.
Sri Lanka’ Interior Minister, John Amaratunga, justified the raid by a combined team of civil and military police and said that initial details pointed to a plan by soldiers, loyal to former deputy defence minister Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte, to assassination Mr Wickremesinghe.
The United National Party (UNP) alleges that thermo-baric weapons had been brought from the operational areas in the North to the Panaluwa Army Testing Range and that cadres attached to a Northern Tamil Political Party were being trained in their use. The training, the UNP alleged, was being co-ordinated by the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) together with Army instructors specially flown from the north with the intention of using these weapons on the meetings held by the UNP leadership and their leader's campaign bus.
The Sunday Times learnt that men who were trained at Panaluwa were those engaged in the LRRP operations based at the Athurugirya safe house. However, the newspaper accused a group within the DMI of being responsible for instigating the raid on the location for political gain. The paper also said that SLA chief Lt. Gen. Balagalle telephoned Police Chief Lucky Kodituwakku to call off the raid, but was unsuccessful.
The Sunday Times revealed that the SLA unit had carried out its operations from the safe house in Athrugiriya, penetrating deep within LTTE held territory. Their area of activity was the Batticaloa district. They were assisted in crossing the lines by the Special Task Force (STF), the counter-insurgency arm of the police, the Sunday Times said.
The Liberation Tigers’ political leader, Mr. S.P Thamil Chelvan was the target of two failed assassination attempts by SLA deep penetration teams, one of which was while he was en route to meet a Norwegian peace delegation for talks.
LRRP teams are also responsible for the assassination of Lt Col. Nizam (Thambirasa Kuhasanthan) the LTTE Military Intelligence Wing leader for the East, reported the Sunday Times. The killing of Col. Shankar, a close confidante of LTTE leader, Vellupillai Pirapaharan, was another high profile assassination attributed to LRRP units.
The deep penetration teams are also accused of the murder and abduction of Tamil civilians in LTTE controlled areas. On 22 May 2001, four civilians were shot dead by a SLA deep penetration team north of Batticaloa. On 2 April 2001 five civilians were abducted by a SLA deep penetration team in the same area. Later on 25 April nine civilians, including three women who were farming activities were also abducted in Kaaverikulam. In May last year, one civilian was killed and three were reported missing in an attack by a Sri Lanka army Deep Penetration team near Mathurankerni Kulam.
The Sunday Times newspaper said the LRRP teams work with ex-LTTE cadres. In the past, some of these cadres have turned out to be infiltrators. A trooper of a Sri Lanka army deep penetration group was killed by another member of the unit in August last year, who then escaped into LTTE held territory. Three senior operatives of the unit conducting deep penetration raids in the Batticaloa district were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the heart of Batticaloa town on 15 November.
The LRRP unit members have been hailed as national heroes by the SLA, which has expressed dismay at their arrest and subsequent treatment in the hands of the police. “These soldiers had in the past risked their lives for the sake of safeguarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the motherland,” the Sri Lanka Army said in an official statement.
The Lanka Academic online newspaper reported that morale in SLA had been hit hard by the arrests. "The morale of the army is very low after this incident. It is sad the way these people are treated and it is definitely a victory for the LTTE," the Lanka Academic quoted on one officer as saying. "Why are the people keeping quiet when we are treated like this?" asked another. "The situation should have been handled in a more matured manner," a high-ranking Army source told the Lanka Academic.
The Sunday Times’ respected defence columnist, Iqbal Athas, echoed the SLA’s sentiment. “All of them [LRRP troopers] are in one room and have to tolerate the ignominy of a stinking toilet whilst they answer questions from their interrogators,” he protested.

Hidden hand behind murder of disabled cadres- LTTE [TamilNet, April 26, 2004 14:11 GMT]

“The murder of our disabled cadres is clearly the work of criminal elements that are working with the Sri Lanka army. I have requested the SLMM to arrange an early meeting with the SLA to discuss this matter. I hope this would be the last incident of this sort. No one could have gone in a van with arms at midnight in the direction of Vavunathivu without the SLA’s knowledge. There are no jungles in these parts to hide a van and armed men”, said Mr. Kousalyan, head of the political division of the Liberation Tigers for the Batticaloa-Amparai district.
“This is an act of utter cowardice intended to create confusion so that anti-social elements working with the army could cover up their deep penetration operations against us”, an LTTE military officer in Batticaloa said.
He denied a report in a Sunday paper published in Colombo that some LTTE troops were wounded in a clash with loyalists of renegade commander ‘Karuna in the interior near the ‘Beirut Base’ recently.
“It is a total fabrication planted by interested parties in the Sri Lankan armed forces”, he said.
“Each and every associate of ‘Karuna’ who has any knowledge of the interior and is capable of planning and carrying out attacks has come back to us. Hence we know that stories like this are being planted in the Colombo press to create conditions for the resumption of the SLA’s deep penetrations operations against us”, the LTTE military officer remarked.
The armed group which came in a van around 11.30 p.m. Sunday night shot dead three sentries at the LTTE’s check point on the Vavunathivu – Aayithiyamalai Road, about 1.5 kilometres from the Sri Lanka army’s forward point near the Vavunathivu DS office.
Then they proceeded about five kilometres on the road to Mullaamunai where the LTTE’s finance division in Batticaloa maintains a general store.
There were four disabled LTTE cadres and two civilian guards at the store.
One of the LTTE cadres was paralysed below his neck, the other had lost both eyes, the third had both legs blown off in a land mine and the fourth had lost a leg in the war.
The assailants opened fire at random as they alighted from their vehicle, according to the guards. The two old men ran away and hid in the adjacent shrub. The gang then shot dead at point blank range the four disabled LTTE cadres.
The gang also damaged vehicles and motorbikes in the store before they fled the area.
The guards said they saw the van speeding down the road in the direction of the Vavunathivu SLA camp after the attack.
Members of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in Batticaloa visited the store Monday afternoon.

Army intelligence operatives killed in explosion [TamilNet, November 15, 2001 10:14 GMT]

Three members of the Sri Lanka Army’s military intelligence unit in Batticaloa were killed in an explosion in the high security zone of the eastern town around 10.15 a.m. Thursday. A senior member of the group ‘Vinobha’ (Thambi) was seriously wounded. A cashew nut seller was killed and eight civilians were wounded near Munai Street where the suicide bomb exploded. Shops and schools were closed in the town following the explosion.
The SLA cordoned off the area for more than an hour and did not allow reporters inside. Subramaniam Maheswaran (Nithi), a senior operative with the Batticaloa military intelligence unit and his colleague S. Chandrakumar (Dvora) were killed instantly in the explosion, Police sources said. Police said that the explosion was triggered off by a suicide bomber.
S. Ravichandran (Ramesh) died in the hospital. Ramesh, Nithi and Thambi were formerly members of the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE). They left the PLOTE in 1992 and were recruited by the Sri Lanka army intelligence. The unit was known as the ‘Mohan Group’ and, according to SLA sources, was very effective in counter-intelligence operations against the Tigers in Batticaloa.
The unit was believed to have been responsible for recent deep penetration strikes in the LTTE held hinterland of the district.

Two civilians killed in SLA ambush [TamilNet, July 12, 2000 16:50 GMT]

Two civilians who were returning from a temple festival south west of Batticaloa Wednesday were shot dead by the Sri Lanka army. Velmurugu Charles Satkunam of Kaluwanchikudi and Ilyathamby Arumugam the 40th Colony were returning from the annual festival of the Thaanthamalai Murugan temple in the interior in the early hours of the morning today around 3.30 a.m. when they were shot dead by an SLA ambush party at Vaalakkaalai near the 39th Colony on the Ampara-Batticaloa district border sources said.
Thaanthamalai and Vaalakkaalai are situated in the western hinterland of the Batticaloa district which is under the control of the Liberation Tigers.
SLA deep penetration groups operate in the LTTE controlled areas close to the Ampara border to ambush the Tigers and gather information about their activities.
Military sources in Ampara said that the SLA ambush party may have mistaken the two men for Tigers as they were riding a motorbike while it was still dark in an LTTE controlled area.
Velmurugu Charles Satkunam was a village officer in Kaluwanchikudi, 24 kilometers south of Batticaloa.
The bodies of the two men were brought to the Kaluwanchikudi hospital this evening by their relatives.

Three Batticaloa civilians missing [TamilNet, February 05, 1999 22:53 GMT]

Three refugees who went to fish in the Kallichchai-Vadamunai reservoir, about 60 kilometres northwest of Batticaloa, on January 31 have gone missing said their families today.
The three were inmates of the refugee camp at Kalmadu, on the eastern outskirts of Valaichenai, 32 kilometers north of Batticaloa.
They were displaced from their village, Vadamunai, in 1990 due to Sri Lankan Army (SLA) action.
Vadamunai is situated close to the Batticaloa-Polannaruwa border.
The SLA forcibly evicted the Tamil population from these areas in June 1990 during an ambitious counter - insurgency program. The vast Vadamunai-Tharavai hinterland was declared by the SLA as a no go area. Cultivation and habitation were banned.
At that time military analysts said that the program was designed to gather the population together into easily managed centres preventing any support previously given to the LTTE. The vast land would also be left unpopulated and therefore easier to control.
Tamils from more than thirty five agricultural and jungle villages in this region had to live as refugees in government run camps around Valaichenai.
Many of these have resettled since 1995 when the Vadamunai-Tharavai hinterland came under the control of the Liberation Tigers. Cultivation has resumed in many parts of this region.
However, the people who were displaced in 1990 from villages such as Vadamunai and Ootruchchenai close to the Polannaruwa district border have not been able to resettle due to the uncertain security situation there.
But many of them from the refugee camps in Valaichenai go back to fish in their now neglected reservoir of Kallichchai-Vadamunai to eke out a living.
S.Sivapirakasam, 36, V.Paramanathan, 50, and A.Marcellin, 25, were among those who risked going back to their village regularly to fish in the reservoir. They would usually sell the catch in Valaichenai.
Sivapirakasam, Paramanathan and Marcellin, according to other refugees who were in the area that day, had walked into an ambush by an SLA deep penetration special forces group by the reservoir.
They said that Marcellin had jumped into the water when he had realised that he and his friends were trapped in an SLA ambush. The fate of the other two is not known. Relatives contacted the GOC of the division 3 Maj.Gen.Janaka Perera through the local MP.
The division 3 GOC checked with the SLA camp at Welikanda which is not far from Vadamunai and got a reply in the negative about the missing persons.
Efforts are still under way to find out the fate of the three refugees sources said.

Seven Tigers killed in Batticaloa [TamilNet, April 26, 2004 08:44 GMT]

Seven Liberation Tigers were killed by an unidentified armed group in Batticaloa Sunday night around 11.30 p.m. Four of the murdered LTTE cadres were invalids, sources said. They were killed at Ponnaankaanichenai, about 1.5 kilometres from the Sri Lanka army's point northwest of Batticaloa town. Mr. E. Kousalyan, the head of the LTTE's political division in Batticaloa told truce monitors from the eastern town that the group that killed the seven Tiger cadres had come from the direction of the Sri Lanka army camp in Vavunathivu.
The Vavunathivu SLA camp is located on the western shore of the Batticaloa lagoon. It is about 4 kilometres northwest of the Batticaloa town.

Explosion kills LTTE cadre in east [TamilNet, May 21, 2004 06:44 GMT]

A member of the Liberation Tigers was killed in an explosion in Aalankerni, 42 kilometres north of Batticaloa, Thursday night, LTTE sources in the eastern town said. Aalankerni is close to the Batticaloa-Polannaruwa Road which is controlled by the Sri Lanka Army.
LTTE officials in Batticaloa said they are awaiting more information about the explosion and the damage it has caused.

Two LTTE activists shot dead in Batticaloa [TamilNet, May 06, 2004 13:48 GMT]

Mr.Sivanathan Murali alias Pahalavan and Mr.Vathanan, two unarmed political activists of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), were shot dead Thursday afternoon around 2 p.m. at Thannamunai, located 9 kilometers northwest of Batticaloa town in the Sri Lanka Army-controlled area. At the time of the incident the Sri Lanka Army was patrolling the area, sources said.
The bodies of the dead were kept in the mortuary of the Batticaloa teaching hospital, police said.
Residents said both had been shot while riding in a motor bicycle bearing No:GT 470 along Valaichchenai-Batticaloa main road and they died on the spot.
LTTE sources said both activists had been shot dead by Tamil paramilitary groups closely associating with the Sri Lanka Army in Batticaloa. LTTE sources further said this crime could not have been committed without the knowledge of the SLA.
Monitors of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission based in Batticaloa rushed to the site on a compliant by the LTTE and held on the spot observation, sources said.
Seven Tigers were shot dead on April 24 at Ayithiamalai in Batticaloa district and another LTTE cadre was shot dead at Pendukalchenai while riding a motorbike on May 2nd, sources recalled.
Political observers say the killings pose a grave threat to the peace process.

Explosion kills LTTE cadre in east [TamilNet, May 22, 2004 12:48 GMT]

A member of the Liberation Tigers was killed in an explosion in Aalankerni, 42 kilometres north of Batticaloa, Thursday night, LTTE sources in the eastern town said. Aalankerni is close to the Batticaloa-Polannaruwa Road which is controlled by the Sri Lanka Army.
LTTE officials in Batticaloa said they are awaiting more information about the explosion and the damage it has caused

SLA behind Aalankulam killing- LTTE [TamilNet, May 22, 2004 12:48 GMT]

Thursday night attack in Aalankulam on Liberation Tigers in which an LTTE cadre, Markandu Punithalingam (alias Rohithan or Kohilan), was killed was carried out with the support of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), said E.Kausalyan, Batticaloa-Amparai Head of the LTTE political wing, according to sources in Batticaloa.
''We have complained about this incident to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM),'' Kausalyan said.
Mankerni SLA camp is located 2km from the scene of the incident in Aalankulam which is under the control of Liberation Tigers.
LTTE sources said Commander Nagesh was the target of the claymore attack on the LTTE group that was travelling to Vakarai from Pendugalchchenai. The explosion was followed by light machine gun (LMG) fire from the assailants, sources added.
Kohilan's body was kept for viewing by the public in his native village of Munaikaadu, a village near Kokkaddicholai 15 kilometres north of Batticaloa, Friday and was buried in Thandiyadi Hero's cemetary Saturday morning.
Kausalyan and other LTTE commanders and officials participated in the burial ceremony.
This is the fourth incident in the last several weeks in Batticaloa district where LTTE cadres have been injured or killed.

LTTE fighter killed in Batticaloa [TamilNet, May 01, 2004 11:58 GMT]

A Liberation Tigers fighter was killed in Batticaloa in a claymore mine blast Saturday around 11.30 a.m, sources said.
The attack took place at Pondukalchenai, about 5 kilometres from Kiran north of Batticaloa

SLA troops kill youth, abduct farmers [TamilNet, September 26, 2001 13:09 GMT]

Sri Lanka army troops on a deep penetration operation in the north-western hinterland of the Batticaloa district shot dead a youth on night watch in a paddy field and abducted nine farmers who were in the area Thursday night around 8.30 p.m. Relatives of the abducted farmers said that the SLA troops had come from Welikanda into the Maanikkam Vayal Kandam, a tract of rice fields in the hinterland about 85 kilometers northwest of Batticaloa. The general area of Welikanda in the Sinhala majority Polannaruwa district lies close to the north-western sector of Batticaloa.
Thiyagarajah Sinnarajah, 17, of Paalchenai, a coastal village 72 kilometers north of Batticaloa, was shot dead by the SLA troops while he was on night watch in a rice field in the Maanikkam Vayal Kandam.
The fate of the nine farmers abducted by the SLA is unknown relatives said. The farmers abducted from Manikkam Vayal Kandam last night by the SLA are:
1.Veluppillai Sivalingam, 55
2.Sivalingam Pulenthiran, 23
3.Kailayapillai Vijayan, 16
4.Sinnapillai Raveenthiran, 34
5.Muththaiah Rathinam, 36
6.Velan Kathirkamathamby, 56
These farmers are from the village of Puchchaakerni, near Kathiraveli, 79 kilometers north of Batticaloa by the coast.
7.Kanapathipillai Mylvaganam, 42 of Paalchenai, near Kathiraveli.
8.Velayuthan Navarathinam, 45 of Puththur in Kathiraveli
9.Shanmugam Ekamparam, 28 also of Puththur.

One killed, three wounded in Polannaruwa attack [TamilNet, September 26, 2001 13:09 GMT]

A Sri Lanka army soldier was killed and two were wounded in an attack by the Liberation Tigers in Sungawil in the Polannaruwa district Thursday morning around 7.30 a.m. The Tigers hit an army post near the district border between Polannaruwa and Batticaloa. A security assistant at the checkpoint was also wounded in the attack. Sungawil is 21 kilometres northeast of the Polannaruwa town.
The Liberation Tigers control the large northern part of the Batticaloa district, which is contiguous with the eastern side of the Polannaruwa district where Sungawil is located.
The SLA send deep penetration groups into the Batticaloa district's northern hinterland from its camps in Polannaruwa east to intercept and ambush LTTE patrols from the organisation's large bases in the interior.
The SLA patrols arrest civilians from Vakarai, 64 kilometres north of Baticaloa who go to collect wild honey in the jungles of the hinterland.

Missing Vaakarai youth said killed by SLA [TamilNet, September 26, 2001 13:09 GMT]

Three youths who were reported missing after they were arrested by a Sri Lanka army deep penetration team in Vaakarai, 64 kilometres north of Batticaloa on 22 May, are dead, according to relatives. The Sri Lanka army's 23-2 brigade had informed the ICRC on Wednesday that the three men were killed. However, the army had not told the ICRC how or where the men had been killed. Last week the SLA informed the Human Rights Commission office in Batticaloa that they were not aware of the whereabouts of the three men.
Relatives of the men had informed the ICRC that the three men were missing after they were arrested by an SLA deep penetration team. The ICRC, however, was unable to trace the men despite three weeks of inquiries.
The three youth, Murugan Mangaleswaran, 24, Ramalingam Subramaniam, 24, Velmurugu Selvarajah, 20, were arrested and taken away by a deep penetration team of the SLA while they were gathering firewood and honey in Maruthankernikkulam, west of Vaakarai on 22 May.
Yoganathan Kesavarajah, 24, who was with them, was shot dead at the spot by the SLA team.
Relatives of the three youth who had run to the area upon hearing gunfire had seen the SLA soldiers dragging them away.
Residents of Vaakarai and villages in its large hinterland say that SLA's special deep penetration teams often come into this region.
The area is under the control of the Liberation Tigers. They say that deep penetration teams operate from SLA camps at Karadikkulam and Welikanda which are more than 20-30 kilometres from the hinterland of Vaakarai. These special SLA groups have arrested and killed civilians found gathering honey or chopping fire wood in the jungles and shrub of Vaakarai's sparsely populated hinterland.

LTTE condemns assassination of senior leader [TamilNet, September 26, 2001 13:09 GMT]

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in an official statement issued from its headquarters in Vanni Wednesday, strongly condemned the killing of one of its senior leaders, Colonel Shankar. The statement said the LTTE leadership "shares the Tamil people's outrage and treats the killing of a senior leader with utmost gravity."
The full text of the press release follows:
"The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in an official statement issued from its headquarters in Vanni Wednesday, strongly condemned the killing of one of its senior leaders Colonel Shankar.
"A deep penetration commando unit of the Sri Lankan Army triggered a claymore mine on Col. Shankar's vehicle and he was killed on the spot. The incident occurred around 10.45 a.m. today near Oddusudan in the heart of Vanni, Northern Sri Lanka.
"Col. Shankar has been an active participant in the Tamil people's freedom struggle for nearly two decades. He was a close confidante of the LTTE leader, Mr. Vellupillai Pirapaharan and accompanied him in the first historic meeting in the Vanni with Oslo's Special Envoy, Erik Solheim, in November 2000.
"Provocatively, Col. Shankar's killing occurred on the anniversary of the death during hunger strike of Lt. Col Thileepan, a day of profound sadness amongst the Tamil people. The LTTE leadership shares the Tamil people's outrage and treats the killing of a senior leader with utmost gravity.
"Whilst maintaining to the international community that it is committed to a negotiated settlement, President Chandrika Kumaratunga's regime has repeatedly sought to sabotage the Norwegian peace initiative and continued its military operations. As a result of repeated Sri Lankan acts of aggression, formal and informal efforts to de-escalate the conflict have proved futile. The attack on Col Shankar and the date chosen for it highlights the Sri Lankan government's ongoing determination to seek the military option in solving the Tamil national question. Prospects for peace talks through Norwegian facilitation, stalled earlier through Colombo's efforts to sideline Mr. Solheim, have been further set back by the killing of this senior LTTE leader."

Five soldiers killed in Sri Lanka PTI[ THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2001 08:38:55 PM ]

COLOMBO: Three soldiers were killed and nine others seriously wounded when a suspected LTTE suicide bomber blew himself up on Thursday in eastern Sri Lanka while two other government troops were shot dead by the rebels in another incident in the region, police and army officials said.
The suicide bomber exploded in a high security zone in Batticaloa town when the soldiers were shopping in a market-place, the military said in a statement.
The unidentified suicide bomber had mingled with the public to enter the town which is under army control.
Shops and schools were closed in the town following the explosion and the area was cordoned off.
The blast came within a week of a failed attempt to kill a police officer at Kalkudah in Batticaloa and a day after two policemen were killed when a parcel bomb exploded at Kalmunai in the eastern Ampara district.
A pro-LTTE website claimed that the three men killed in the suicide bombing were military intelligence operatives who had formerly been members of the Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE).
The trio were part of a unit called Mohan Group and were effective in counter-intelligence operations against the Tigers in Batticaloa, it said.
The unit was believed to have been responsible for recent deep penetration strikes in the LTTE-held hinterland of the district, the website said.
The reference was to several alleged undercover operations of the Army to target individual rebel leades.
The LTTE's eastern commander Karikalan had recently escaped a claymore mine explosion with the rebels alleging that the army's deep penetration unit was responsible. The army has denied its hand in any such incident.
Senior LTTE leaders Nizam, Gangai Amaran and Shankar have been killed in mysterious attacks deep inside LTTE-controlled territory in recent months, while Karikalan and S P Tamilchelvam have escaped attempts on their lives.
Meanwhile, in yet another attack in the east, LTTE rebels killed two soldiers engaged in clearing a road in Trincomalee district on Thursday, defence officials said.
The soldiers were on a routine route-clearing patrol on a road predominantly used by civilians, when they were fired at from the jungles at Somapura, 31 km south of Trincomalee.
The rebels have stepped up attacks on police posts and Army caps in the east in recent months, making the eastern war zone as volatile as the embattled Jaffna peninsula and Vanni region in the north. They have been accused of large-scale forcible recruitment of young men and boys to bolster their ranks.

SLA operation in Mannar south, three missing [TamilNet, April 08, 1999 08:06 GMT]

The Sri Lanka army is on a deep penetration operation in the jungles and coast in the southern extreme of Mannar, which is contiguous with the Puttalam district's border, sources said. Mrs. Philippu Calistus 40, who came to Mannar town Monday from the interior jungle village of Neelamadu in sthern Mannar said that three persons, including her husband Philippu Calistus Cruz, 45, who went to the coastal village of Pookkulam on the Puttalam-Mannar border on Saturday 24 March where hundreds of troops had moved in, have gone missing.
The SLA says that the Liberation Tigers have a large naval facility and linked jungle bases in this remote sector of the island's
Mrs. Philippu was in Mannar town Monday to seek the ICRC's assistance to help her locate her missing husband. She said that her family was displaced from Mullikulam, a hamlet in the heart of the thick forests in the southern sector of the Mannar district.
According to her, Philippu Cruz had gone hunting towards Pookkulam on Saturday with four persons from the village. His colleagues had seen the army deployment in and around the coastal hamlet and had promptly left the area. Philippu did not return.
The woman said that two others from her village who went to collect honey in the jungle in the same area on Saturday are also missing.

'Mole' kills leader of SLA penetration team [TamilNet, April 08, 1999 08:06 GMT]

A soldier of a Sri Lanka army deep penetration group was killed in the early hours of the morning Saturday when he was shot by another trooper of the unit that was lying in ambush at Kurinjamunai junction inside the area held by the Liberation Tigers west of Batticaloa town. The trooper got away with the weapons of his dead team leader. Both men are from the SLA's National Guard. Military sources in Batticaloa said that the trooper who got away was an LTTE 'mole'.
However, media sources said that he was introduced to the local press by the SLA at its brigade headquarters in the eastern town on 17 March. The youth told the presspersons that he had been a supporter of the LTTE's political wing.
He told journalists that he deserted the LTTE and surrendered to the SLA when he came to know that the Tigers was planning to conscript and send him off for military training.
The SLA officers who called the press meet claimed that the youth had surrendered at the military camp in Vavunathivu, near Batticaloa town on 15 March. A photo of the youth holding an assault rifle was published in the Thinakathir, the daily newspaper published in the eastern town, on 18 March.
Tamil paramilitary sources working with the SLA in Batticaloa said he was subsequnetly recruited by the National Guard unit in Batticaloa (formerly known as the Razeek group) mainly with the view to help deep penetration and infiltration teams to operate in the LTTE held areas in the hinterland of the district.
"He was also expected to identify LTTE leaders for ambush parties operating inside LTTE held areas," a member of a paramilitary familiar with the youth said.
He added that the death of Sembaapodi Mehanathan, 37, (nom de guerre Kutti) was a setback for special military infiltration operations of the SLA into the hinterland of the Batticaloa district which is controlled by the Tigers. Mehanathan was formerly a cadre of the EPRLF. He worked with the Indian army in 1988-90 and then joined the SLA when Delhi pulled out its troops from the north and east of the island.
SLA deep penetration teams have stepped up operations in the east and in the Vanni recently, according to Tamil press reports. Thirty claymore mines aimed at the movements of LTTE leaders in the western hinterland of Batticaloa were discovered by the LTTE since 14 June, local press sources said. A claymore mine meant to hit a local LTTE leader at Thumpankerni, 26 kilometres southwest of Batticaloa blasted a lorry carrying bricks on 29 July, according to them.
Nizam, a senior LTTE operative was killed in a claymore blast in the interior of Batticaloa's hinterland on 14 June.

Paramilitary operation to abduct woman [TamilNet, April 08, 1999 08:06 GMT]

Paramilitary sources in Batticaloa said that the Razeek group carried out an operation into LTTE controlled areas on Monday night in order to abduct a woman who was then married, at a Sri Lankan Army camp, to one of the group's leaders.
Paramilitaries issued with special weapons by the SLA for deep penetration operations into the LTTE controlled hinterland, moved from the Vavunathivu SLA camp, six kilometres southeast of Batticaloa town, towards the village of Eechanthivu, three kilometers from Vavunathivu.
The special group, comprising cadres who had been trained at the SLA's Infantry Training School in Minneriya, 125 miles northwest of Batticaloa, had moved around Hospital street in the village of Eechanthivu and had taken up secure vantage positions before the core group could move towards its target.
Around midnight Razeek's special commandos had stormed the house of Rasarathinam Manjula; and, after intimidating the her parents, abducted her and took her back to the SLA camp at Vavunathivu
Yesterday morning Manjula was married to the Razeek group leader Manivannan.
According to paramilitary sources in Batticaloa Mannivanan, who surrendered to the SLA three months ago, claims to have had some previous connection to the Liberation Tigers.
Since then he has been of great value to the army and the Razeek group in providing precise information about LTTE sympathisers.
Manivannan had apparently developed an interest in Manjula before surrendering to the SLA.
The paramilitary sources say that there is some doubt regarding Mannivanan's claims of previous connection with the LTTE.

Penetration team attacked [TamilNet, April 08, 1999 08:06 GMT]

The Tigers announced in the Vanni today that two SLA soldiers were killed and more than five wounded when they attacked an SLA unit that had penetrated into the Muththaiyyan Kattu area in the Mullaithivu district on Tuesday April 6. The others in the SLA penetration team, according to the LTTE, had escaped from the scene of the attack.
The Tigers said that they had recovered two hand grenades, two bombs, two magazines, two hundred medium rounds and five AK rifle magazines from the SLA.
Muththaiyyan Kattu is about 7 kilometers north of Oddusuddaan through the jungles. The former is under the LTTE's control and the latter is held by the SLA.
The SLA has, since it called off Operation Jaya Sikurui, adopted the strategy of sending out special forces units deep into LTTE controlled territory to ambush, as it does in the east, Tiger parties and convoys. These operations will limit the tactical mobility of the LTTE in its own heartland and help familiarise the special forces (SF) with the jungle terrain of the Vanni currently dominated by the Tigers the SLA claims. The success of deep penetration operations, according to army planners in Colombo, could eventually help the (SF) take on key leaders of the Liberation Tigers.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan military sources in Batticaloa said this morning that a group of ex-Tamil militants working with the local unit of the directorate of military intelligence which penetrated into the LTTE held western hinterland yesterday had ambushed and killed a Tiger identified as Akkaachchi near the Kaali temple in Karayaakkan Theevu.
The group had recovered a T 56 assault rifle from the Tiger. They claimed he was a local area leader of the LTTE. The military intelligence group returned to their base behind the Batticaloa hospital before the Tigers could retaliate the SLA sources said.

Claymore kills LTTE's eastern political leader [TamilNet, June 15, 2001 21:21 GMT]

The leader of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers for the Batticaloa and Ampara district was killed in a claymore mine blast Thursday around 11.30 a.m. at Vaathakkalmadu in Nallathanni Odai, about 36 kilometres south west of Batticaloa, Sri Lanka army sources in the eastern town said. They claimed that the Batticaloa-Ampara district's political wing leader, Nizaam, was killed when the claymore blast hit the motorbike on which he was riding with a colleague Thursday morning.
Nizaamís associate was severely wounded in the blast, according to relatives who saw him Friday. This is the third claymore blast targeting senior LTTE leaders inside the Batticaloa districtíswestern hinterland since January this year, SLA sources claimed.
Three claymore mines were set off inside the areas controlled by the Liberation Tigers last year as well, in Vellaveli and Palugamam and Karadiyan Aaru.
Paramilitary sources working with the army in the eastern town said two of the blasts last year were aimed at Ramanan, the head of the LTTEís military intelligence wing in the Batticaloa-Ampara districts.
Informed sources in the eastern town said that the SLAís deep penetration teams comprising Special Forces were largely responsible for the claymore blasts.

SLA penetratiom group strikes again in east [TamilNet, September 18, 2001 15:38 GMT]

A member of the communications wing of the Liberation Tigers was killed in a claymore blast set off by a deep penetration team of the Sri Lanka army in the hinterland west of the Batticaloa town Monday around 4.30 p.m. paramilitary sources in the eastern town said. Since June this year, SLA deep penetration teams have killed two members of the Liberation Tigers inside the western hinterland of the Batticaloa district. The LTTE controls 90 percent of the district’s western sector. The Liberation Tigers in Batticaloa say that they have recovered 37 claymore mines set up by the SLA inside areas under their control since 15 June.
Paramilitary sources in the eastern town told Tamilnet that Mano, a member of the LTTE who was in charge of the organisation's communications and video units in the Batticaloa district, was riding a motorbike alone when he was hit by a claymore mine blast at Paththarakkaddai, 4 kilometres north west of the SLA’s camp in Vavunathivu Monday evening.
The SLA, however, claimed in a press release that 'Mano' was killed at Naripulthottam Tuesday. Naripulthottam is more than 6 kilometres north of Vavunathivu.
The SLA camp at Vavunathivu stands sentry to the Valaiyiravu Bridge on the edge of the western shore of the lagoon, five kilometres southwest of the Batticaloa, guarding the main entry point between the district’s hinterland and the eastern town.
The SLA's Special Forces, aided by a small band of specially trained local paramilitaries, undertake deep penetration operations into Batticaloa's western hinterland which is held by the LTTE.
The Liberation Tigers in the Batticaloa said that they have arrested three persons since June for aiding the deep penetration teams to smuggle in claymore mines.
Nizam, a senior officer of the LTTE in Batticaloa was killed by a claymore mine blast in June deep inside the hinterland held by the organisation. Another blast seriously wounded a trooper riding a motorbike at Thandiyadi, four kilometres west of the vavunathivu camp, in July. The LTTE trooper whose legs were blown off took cyanide.
The SLA deep penetration team that attacked him withdrew before the Tigers could send in reinforcements to the area, paramilitary sources working with the SLA in Batticaloa town said.
SLA deep penetration teams have targeted senior officials of the Liberation Tigers in the Vanni, including the leader of the organisation's political wing, Mr. S.P Thamil Chelvan since early this year. Mr. Thamil Chelvan was on his way for talks with a Norwegian peace delegation when his convoy was hit by a powerful claymore mine blast.

Deep penetration group ambush wounds 4 civilians [TamilNet, February 20, 2001 19:21 GMT]

Four civilians were wounded when the tractor in which they were travelling was hit by claymore mine triggered by a Sri Lanka Army deep penetration team in the Vaakarai region, about 75 km. north of Batticaloa local residents said. The incident occurred at Kathiraveli-Kattumurivu Kulam road, in the LTTE held area, around 3 p.m. Saturday.
LTTE members who searched the area following the blast recovered another mine placed on a tree, grenades and a water can used by Sri Lanka Army troops, the residents said.
Wounded civilians were brought to Valaichenai hospital and transferred to Batticaloa for further treatment.
The wounded were identified as: K.Raveendran,49, I.Arumanayakam,46, Jeevan Ramesh,23 and T.Kopalapillai,34.
Special deep penetration teams of the SLA regularly infiltrate the large hinterland in Batticaloa's northern sector from the Sinhala majority district of Polonnaruwa to interdict the LTTE's mobility in these parts and to search and destroy the organisation's supply and training camps.
On 22 May 2001 four civilians were shot dead by a SLA deep penetration team Mathurankerni Kulam, 70 kilometres north of Batticaloa.
On 2 April 2001 five civilians were abducted by a SLA deep penetration team near Kattumurivu Kulam in the same area.
Later on 25 April nine civilians, including three women who were engaged in Chena cultivation (slash and burn) were arrested in Kaaverikulam, which lies close to Kattumurivu Kulam and Mathurankerni Kulam.
The hinterlands of the Batticaloa district's northern sector are large and are contiguous with the Polonnaruwa district. The SLA regularly sends into this region special deep penetration teams to harass and assassinate senior members of the Liberation Tigers who run training and logistical bases here.
On 14 June, the leader of the LTTE's political wing for the Batticaloa and Ampara district was killed when the claymore blast hit the motorbike on which he was riding with a colleague. The attack took place at Vaathakkalmadu in Nallathanni Odai, about 36 kilometres south west of Batticaloa.
On 29 June, two LTTE members including a senior leader of the Sea Tigers (LTTE's naval unit), Lt.Col.Kangai Amaran were killed in an ambush by the SLA at Aanaivilunthan in the LTTE held area in Mannar district.
On 16 May a convoy of the Liberation Tigers in which Mr. S.P Thamil Chelvan, organisation's political wing leader, was travelling towards Mallavi where he was scheduled to meet Norwegian Peace envoy Mr. Eric Solheim was hit near Kokkavil, 7 km. north of Mankulam. However, Mr. Mr. Thamil Chelvan's vehicle escaped the attack.

Top LTTE official escapes ambush [TamilNet, February 20, 2001 19:21 GMT]

Sri Lanka Army commandos Monday ambushed senior LTTE officials as they were leaving after meeting an inter-religious peace group at Madhu in the Vanni, sources said. The LTTE officials' vehicle was caught in a claymore blast which badly damaged it, but the occupants escaped unhurt, the sources said.
Sources said that the head of the LTTE's political wing, Thamilchelvan, was scheduled to attend the meeting, but had been unavoidably detained. Mr. Thamilchelvan had sent other senior officials in his place, they said.
The 60-member inter-religious delegation comprising 36 Buddhist monks, two Bishops and several catholic and Muslim priests visited Madhu in the LTTE held Vanni Monday.
Commenting on the SLA ambush, the Voice of Tigers (VoT) radio said the attack on the LTTE delegates leaving a meeting to further peace efforts clearly demonstrated which protagonist was acting against peace.

Thamil Chelvan's convoy hit by SLA claymore [TamilNet, May 16, 2001 08:53 GMT]

A convoy of the Liberation Tigers in which Mr. S.P Thamil Chelvan, the leader of the political wing of the LTTE, was travelling towards Mallavi where he was scheduled to meet Norwegian Peace envoy Mr. Eric Solheim was hit near Kokkavil by a claymore blast set off by a deep penetration team of the Sri Lanka army Tuesday afternoon, sources in Vanni said. A LTTE trooper was killed and two were wounded in the blast. They were travelling in a Mitsubishi Pajero that was providing security to Mr. Thamil Chelvan's vehicle, the sources added.
Meanwhile Mr. Solheim and Mr. Jon Westborg, Norway's Ambassador to Sri Lanka who were scheduled to start talks with Mr. Thamil Chelvan and other LTTE officials in Mallavi Wednesday , will travel to Vanni Thursday, official LTTE sources said.
The Liberation Tigers have begun a search operation to locate the SLA's deep penetration team in the Kokkavil area, the sources in Vanni said.
Kokkavil is 7 kilometres north of Mankulam on the A9 highway from Vavuniya to Jaffna.
Mr. Thamil Chelvan's convoy escaped an attack by a SLA deep penetration team earlier during a visit by religious leaders to the Vanni earlier this year.

Deep penetration group kills one, takes three TamilNet, May 22, 2001 17:44 GMT]

One civilian was killed and three were reported missing in an attack by a Sri Lanka army Deep Penetration team near Mathurankerni Kulam, 70 kilometres north of Batticaloa, Tuesday around 10 a.m. Yoganathan Kesavarajah, 24, had gone to chop firewood when he was shot dead by the SLA’s special penetration group. His wife is pregnant with their first child, relatives said. The three persons who are reported missing, had gone to collect honey in the jungles near Mathurankerni Kulam. Relatives said that the three were abducted by two SLA deep penetration teams.
The village officer of Mathurankerni Kulam reported the death of Yoganathan Kesavarajah to the Valaichenai Police Tuesday.
Residents of the village who came to Valaichenai Tuesday said that they had run to the spot where the SLA deep penetration team had opened fire on Yoganathan Kesavarajah when they heard gunfire. The soldiers of the team had attacked them and had retreated when more people from the village has rushed to the spot upon hearing the tussle.
The missing civilians whom relatives say were abducted by the SLA deep penetration team are:
Murugan Mangleswaran, 24
Ramalingam Subramaniam, 26
Velmurugu Selvarajah, 20
Special deep penetration teams of the SLA regularly infiltrate the large hinterland in Batticaloa’s northern sector from the Sinhala majority district of Polannaruwa to interdict the LTTE’s mobility in these parts and to search and destroy the organisation’s supply and training camps.
On 2 April 2001 five civilians were abducted by a SLA deep penetration team near Kattumurivu Kulam in the same area.
Later on 25 April nine civilians, including three women who were engaged in Chena cultivation (slash and burn) were arrested in Kaaverikulam, which lies close to Kattumurivu Kulam and Mathurankerni Kulam.
The hinterlands of the Batticaloa district’s northern sector are large and are contiguous with the Polannaruwa district. The SLA regularly sends into this region special deep penetration teams to harass and assassinate senior members of the Liberation Tigers who run training and logistical bases here.
Several cases were reported last year by former MP for Batticaloa north, Mr. K. Thurairajasingham, in which many civilians had been abducted or killed by the deep penetration teams of the Sri Lanka army.


The Song Ong Doc river runs through the Ca Mau Peninsula, on the Southern tip of Viet Nam. It drains into the Gulf of Thailand adjacent to the South China Sea.
Members of Underwater Demolition Team Thirteen Detachment GOLF, augmented by a number of Frogmen from Underwater Demolition Team Twenty-One, were preparing to embark on a search and destroy mission up this slow moving brown waterway of the Mekong Delta. We were operating from the USS Terrell County, LST-1157. It was anchored at a two–point moor a few miles from the Coast of Viet Nam.
A pair of helicopters from Light Helicopter Assault Squadron, #3 (HAL-3), were stationed on board for aerial support. Occasionally a small number of South Vietnamese troops would be billeted aboard the ship. We were all part of the SEALORDS operations.
On this day, in May 1969, we were to travel up the river with a small flotilla of six Swift Boats, take aboard some RFPFs (Regional Forces and Popular Forces, commonly called Ruff Puffs), then proceed further up river in an attempt to locate and destroy bunkers and other structures that could give the Viet Cong cover during attempts at ambushing and destroying American and South Vietnamese Riverine craft.
At approximately 0400 the members of Underwater Demolition Team Thirteen, Detachment GOLF, and six Swift boat crews ate chow, checked gear, and went on deck to prepare for getting under way. Our standard operating procedure was; reveille, eat chow, load magazines, and then assist the boat crews in loading demolitions aboard the Swift Boat (PCF). We would carry several cases of C-4, 5.56 ammunition, 81mm mortar rounds, high explosive rounds for the M-79s, concussion, fragmentation, CS, and a few smoke grenades. Usually, at about this time of early morning, a squad of men from SEAL Team One, who were also operating from the Terrell County, would be returning from night operations, often with a prisoner or two for interrogation.
On some other operations, we would bring the Ruff Puffs to the ship and feed them and show them movies at night, etc. None of the Team members had a warm, safe, fuzzy feeling about living offshore on a ship carrying both Vietnamese troops and tons of high explosives. One evening I took a detour through the tank deck on my way to the galley. Our supplies of explosives and ammunition were stored on pallets on the tank deck. I walked along the deck admiring the numerous stacks of ammo and explosives. As I approached the door that led off the tank deck toward the galley, I heard a sound. There was a sailor, supposedly on watch, sleeping on top of one of the pallets of ammo, snoring away. A real confidence builder! This particular time we had Vietnamese troops on board. Any one of them could have been "Nguyen Van Hardcore." All he would have needed was a length of time fuse, a cap and a match. In a heartbeat, he would have been a hero and we would have been history.
The sun was creeping toward the horizon and the men were anxious to get the operation under way. The boats were loaded and the crews properly briefed. Diesel engines were fired up and the formation of Swift boats struck out for the mouth of the Song Ong Doc, a few miles inshore from our anchorage. The two Seawolf helicopters on the Terrell County would be coming in later. The crews would be monitoring our radio frequencies and wouldn't take off until after we had left the pickup point with the Vietnamese troops. No sense orbiting around burning fuel. With Murphy's Law the order of the day, they would most likely run low on fuel about the time the action started.
The Song Ong Doc was a typical Vietnamese river, brown, shallow in depth, and meandering slowly toward the ocean. The vegetation was heavy on both banks. We stopped at our prearranged rendezvous point near a small village and picked up the Ruff Puffs who would be operating with us.
Our boat's skipper pushed the bow onto the mud of the riverbank, and some of us jumped off. The officer in charge of the Ruff Puffs was standing a few yards from our landing point. He motioned for us to get off the boat and follow him. An Army Captain on board our boat, the adviser and interpreter for the Vietnamese troops, turned and told us to come into the village and have a Coke or something. Our OIC, Lt. Bruce Dyer#, didn't relish the idea. We agreed. The less time we spent screwing around, the less time the Viet Cong would have to set up any surprises for us. The RFPFs, a slack looking bunch, climbed on board several of the boats and we headed up river. They were equipped with World War Two vintage M1 and M2 carbines. Some of them wore sandals and had brightly colored scarves around their necks, a method of unit designation. I got the distinct impression they were not crack troops.
We took them aboard and left the village. The sun had broken over the horizon and was beginning to cast its oppressive heat upon us. It reflected off the brown water of the river and made it difficult to see details on the Eastern bank of the river. The heat was an omnipresent thing. I never got used to it, I just quit bitching about it. The UDT men wore flack vests and steel pots while on the boat, but when we disembarked, we would shed the extra weight of them.
The stern of the Swift boat was crowded with the members of our Golf Detachment and the crew members of the Swift. A fifty caliber machine gun was mounted on the stern deck and a twin-fifty was mounted in the gun tub topside behind the wheelhouse. I was sitting under the stern fifty with my back against its mount. We were all trying to make believe nobody could see us, that the Viet Cong didn't know we were coming. It is the most naked feeling in the world to be sitting on the deck of a fifty-foot aluminum hulled boat with two GM diesels screaming underneath, assuming nobody knows you are there. There's no place to hide. You try to get real small. We called it the 'Fishbowl Effect'. You can't sneak up on anybody with the noise of the engines there's no way you can tell you're being shot at. Maybe we'd see rounds hitting the water, or catch a glimpse of muzzle flashes. That's what I thought, anyway.
Without warning, a huge geyser of water erupted fifty feet astern. It was equidistant between us and the boat to our rear. Nearly every weapon on the boats opened up. I didn't have a clue what the hell was going on, but figured I better get involved. From where I was sitting, a few feet back from the rail, I didn't have a clear field of fire, so couldn't bring my weapon to bear on the riverbank. Suddenly I had a searing pain in my back. I thought I had been hit. The fifty- caliber shell casings were falling down between my flack vest and my shirt. I rolled over and got the vest off rather hurriedly. No harm was done, but I learned quickly why that place where I had been sitting was so readily available. The skipper of the boat pushed the throttles wide open and the sound of the twin diesels increased from a roar to a scream and the boat surged ahead. The muddy brown water churned from under the stern in a froth as we sped up river to get clear of the kill zone. We traveled nearly a hundred yards around a slight bend when the skipper throttled back and pushed the bow ashore on the bank of the river.
There were six boats in this formation. Ours was the second boat from the front. When the ambush started, the three lead boats sped upriver, and the three in the rear did one-eighties turning down river. The boats with Ruff Puffs and UDTs aboard hit the bank in order to insert and encircle the bad guys.
The boat mushed to a halt in the soft mud of the riverbank. Equipment Operator First Class Dean 'O.D.' Nelson, on loan to Thirteen from Twenty-One, moved to the bow and told the Ruff Puff's advisor to get his troops off the boat. They wouldn't debark, and milled around indecisively, as if they had no direction and were afraid to get off the boat. O.D. then told the advisor he would open fire on them if they didn't. That message was understood. I made a graceful non-Hollywood exit from the bow by jumping down and driving both legs into the soft mud clear up to my knees. Then I fell forward onto my rifle. Normally this fiasco would have elicited laughter, but most of us landed the same way. The humor of it would wait until later. We all piled off the boat, pulled each other out of the mud and tried to move inland as quickly as possible, having no idea what size force we might be fighting if the enemy had not run off.
The Seawolves were airborne and heading our way. We could hear the Hueys a few minutes before they were within sight. They had spotted some Viet Cong running away from the river bank. The staccato sound of their M-60 flex guns could be heard coming from the sky as they took them under fire. We watched the smoky trails shooting earthward as they fired rockets at some position hidden from us by the foliage. Over the radio one of the commanders on the ground ordered them to hold their fire unless they were well away from our ground forces, as the flex guns' brass casings were landing around the troops on the ground. Getting hit by brass dropping from a thousand feet could ruin your whole day.
Paths crisscrossed this swampy area. The one I chose to follow intersected a small stream where tree branches hung low to the ground. I passed under one and it brushed the top of my head and shoulders. Suddenly the back of my neck felt like I had been hit with a bucket of hot coals. I grabbed for my neck and went down on my knees. When I pulled my hand down it came back full of big red ants. Jesus, didn't that hurt! Those damn things were three quarters of an inch long and at least a third of that length was teeth. I cleared them off, buttoned my collar and sleeves, and packed handfuls of mud around my neck and wrists. Then I smeared the gray mud over all the exposed skin of my face and hands. In the heat, this mud poultice dried to a concrete-like consistency. I didn't much care what I looked like, as long as I didn't hurt. That was my last problem with ants.
Boatswain's Mate Third Class Bob Lewis, nicknamed 'Machine Gun' Lewis, from UDT-21, and Hospital Corpsman Third Larry Williams, and I moved out ahead and to the right of the Ruff Puffs. They didn't have our aggressive attitude, or they knew something we didn't. We were moving across a small open area when I heard a loud explosion. Apparently, as I learned afterward, a Viet Cong in the bushes to our front had fired a B-40 rocket, which passed harmlessly through our position and hit the trees a number of yards behind us. Nobody was hurt. Lewis opened fire with his M-60. 'Rambo' was back in the States then making 'X' rated movies, but if he could have seen Lewis with that '60 on his shoulder and the bandoleers of ammunition crisscrossing his body in Pancho Via style, he would have been inspired. Doc Williams and I were moving forward on either side of Lewis. We spotted movement in the bushes, but hesitated for a moment before opening fire. Bruce Dyer was somewhere on our left flank with the Ruff Puff advisor, and Larry Whitehead, Dean, and some others were on the right. We also knew we had three boatloads of good guys coming in from somewhere in front of us. We didn't want to take a chance on shooting our own men. All this decision making took place in the course of a few seconds. It didn't take Doc and me long to realize those movements in the bushes were not friendlies. The Ruff Puffs were firing randomly past us. Lewis got off about thirty rounds when he stopped firing and went down on one knee. Doc Williams and I were firing our M-16s to cover him, and I moved over, bending down to see what was wrong. I realized he was trying to clear his weapon. The extractor had broken off the end of a shell casing and the brass was stuck in the chamber. He couldn't clear it and had no spare barrel.
By now, with an injection of courage, the Ruff Puffs moved past our position, firing their weapons sporadically. Lewis gave up on the M-60. By now, the firefight was over. The Ruff Puffs ran by us and into the bushes. As I moved closer, I could see the body of a dead Viet Cong lying nearly hidden in the bushes. One of the little Ruff Puffs ran up to where he was lying and emptied a full magazine into the guy's chest. They dragged his body and two others out of the bushes. It appeared these Viet Cong were in their late teens or early twenties. There was an AK-47 plus a few magazines laying beside one of them. Beside another was a B-40 launcher and two more rockets. The third Viet Cong had been running toward a small canal when he had been killed. We found more weapons in the canal. Apparently some of the Viet Cong had ditched their weapons there and had made a run for safety. Some of them were killed on the other side of the canal. One of the Ruff Puffs came up and pointed to the knife on my belt. He was asking to borrow it. I let him use it not knowing what he was going to do. He returned shortly with a big shit eating grin on his face and showed me the set of testicles he had cut off one of the dead Viet Cong. I was not impressed. It's pretty bad when you can't work up a hatred for guys you are killing and have more respect for them than the people you are supposedly trying to help.
As we worked our way down to the riverbank, in a small depression we found two more B-40 rounds and a bamboo frame full of G.I. batteries. There were about twelve 'D' cell batteries, in series, fitted into a long tube of bamboo strips held together by rubber bands. This source of power was used to fire the command–detonated water mine that had exploded astern of our Swift boat, explaining the geyser we had seen earlier. A pair of wires led into the water and revealed the direction where the mine had been placed. Apparently the man who fired it had his timing off, or had made an attempt fire it but the mine hadn't detonated due to a bad contact. When he tried again, it did explode, but we had passed over the spot and it missed the Swift boat. Luck was with us on that one.
Following SOP we got a body count. It is difficult to comprehend how those numbers meant anything. There were actually thirteen dead Viet Cong, but by the time the numbers were added that each separate unit wanted to claim, the total in the message traffic far exceeded the actual number of dead. This was typical, and I believe it was done to make our efforts look more productive than they actually were. Somehow the politicians equated military victory with how many of the enemy were killed versus how many of us were lost.
The captured weapons were gathered up before we slogged through the mud back to the Swift boats. We stopped at the village to drop off the Ruff Puffs. This time we went ashore and drank that Coke. The Ruff Puffs kept the captured weapons. Thinking it over, we joked that we would probably be shot at again with them the next time we went out. Most likely, that would be the case.
The villagers were very impressed with the little packages these macho heroes brought back. I only felt revulsion for anyone who could cut up somebody from their own country – most likely their own province – after they were dead. It left me with no impression of bravery, only of cowardice. Men are killed in combat. Once a soldier is dead, he should be afforded the privacy of his death, having achieved all he could ever do for his cause or that of his country's. Nothing more can be done to hurt him. Let these false heroes save their heroics for running their country after the war is over. Then bravery, character and fortitude can truly shine, even if it is all a facade.
As an afterthought, we totaled the cost in ammunition for that day's operation. As nearly as we could estimate, it came to about $20,000 per dead Viet Cong. If there had been some way to offer those guys a reward just to go the hell home and forget it, we all might have been better off. Soldiers don't fight for financial gain. Only the politicians reap the rewards from the efforts of their warriors. History will show that damn few conflicts have been fought where the reasons on both sides were born of true patriotism.

NVA THROUGH THE WIRE.....By John "Tilt" Stryker Meyer, One Zero of Spike Team Idaho

As the first flare ignited over the camp, Sergeant Patrick N “Pat” Watkins, Jr., made out an NVA soldier standing in the door of the BOQ. “He was wearing a breech-cloth and bandana,” recalls Watkins, and was holding an AK-47. The NVA didn’t see Watkins, who crawled backwards down the hall.
Passing one room, Watkins saw a young officer dead in his bed, impaled by a jagged piece of two-by-four that a satchel charge blew through his chest, literally nailing him to the bed.
Crawling outside, Watkins saw NVA at the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) pouring heavy gunfire into the Special Forces troops trying to awake and counterattack. As he headed toward another BOA, an NVA sapper spotted him and “for some reason...he threw a satchel charge at me instead of shooting me with his AK.”
Watkins rolled out of harm’s way as the sand absorbed much of the blast. When the NVA saw Watkins still alive, “he threw a grenade at me; again, I was amazed that he simply didn’t shoot me. He must have been high on drugs or something, that’s the only thing which explains it.”
Several survivors of the attack felt many of the NVA soldiers were drugged to enhanced their fearlessness.
OJT Pistol Practice
After the grenade exploded, Watkins pulled his .45. “Hell, I had never hit anything with a pistol before. I remember the instructors telling us to shoot low, so I aimed, fired several rounds and finally lucked out and hit him. Talk about miracle hits!”
Still another NVA threw a grenade at Watkins. This time, Watkins was so close to the sapper that he rushed the NVA, knocking him down and taking his ak-47 before sending him to the big rice paddy in the sky.
“After awhile, it all started to run together in my mind. I remember a radio operator named Hoffman, who stood up to go to help one of our guys who was crying for help. He only made a few steps before he was hit. At one point, we had a guy hit real bad who was screaming for help. But, the NVA were using him for bait. Anyone who went to help him was shot or shot at pronto.”
SF medic Sergeant First Class Robert Robert L. “Bob” Scully, “was hit real bad, there was gray matter lying around...we had to get him to the dispensary ASAP.” But the dispensary was on the south side of camp, and the NVA controlled the TOC which lay in between. A medic named Henderson gave Scully an I.V. “I had to put my hand over his mouth to keep him quite, because there were so many NVA,” he recalls. Later, Henderson carried Scully to the dispensary.
“I’ll tell you one thing, the SF medics were their usual outstanding selves. One medic got a DSC for driving around camp, picking up the wounded and getting them back tot he dispensary under heavy constant fire,” Wakins said.
This tragic story of the most Green Berets killed on a single day during the Vietnam War has remained shrouded in secrecy for 25 years until this exclusive SOF report.
Seventeen U.S. SPECIAL Forces Soldiers were killed 23 August 1968 [i] in the top secret Command and Control North (CCN) outpost in Da Nang when three North Vietnamese Army (NVA) sapper companies executed a well-planned night attack, featuring a daring infiltration into the camp.

Top Secret CCN
The veil of secrecy has remained over this strike for two reasons: It occurred inside the top secret CCN compound, and there were embarrassing breaches in security, without which the attack would not have been so deadly. During a lengthy guerrilla war, even the best of troops and their commanders can become lax, an error the NVA dramatically exploited at CCN.
Only the outstanding heroics of individual Green Berets and some of the indigenous troops assigned to the Recon Company prevented the casualties from exceeding 17.
CCN was under the auspices of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam--Studies and Observation Group (MACV-SOG), which oversaw classified missions run by multiple-service, unconventional warfare troops throughout Southwest Asia, including Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam.
In Green Berets at War, former Special Forces Captain Shelby L. Stanton notes those special operations also extended into Burma and “Yunan, Kwangsi, Kwangtung and Hainan Dao Island in China.” The majority of the personnel running the missions were Green Berets who were funneled through the 5th Special Forces Group in Nha Trang--the command headquarters for all conventional Green Beret assignments such as A comps along the border, to the top-secret Phoenix project. As men arrived at CCN they signed formal agreements not to write or speak of these top secret operations for 20 years.
By August 1968, there were five Forward Operating Bases (FOBs): FOB 1 in Phu Bai, between Hue and Da Nang; FOB 2 in Kontum; FOB 4 in Da Nang; FOB 5 in Ban Me Thuot; and FOB 6 in Ho Ngoc Tao, north of Saigon. FOB 3 in Khe Sahn was being shut down at that time and was no longer operational.
In 1968 six-man or eight-man Spike Teams and Hatchet Force (company-sized elements of Green Berets and indigenous mercenaries) were launching from the FOBs or their respective launch sites on classified missions, missions that varied from area and point reconnaissance to POW snatches, wiretapping, installation of trail sensors, destruction of NVA fuel lines and attempts to locate American POW camps.
Arch Enemies
By that year, the NVA knew well of MACV-SOG troops. In Laos alone, intelligence estimates were of 40,000 NVA and Pathet Lao soldiers and attached personnel who worked the Ho Chi Minh Trail complex. Part of their job was to attack the MACV-SOG teams.
As far back as 1966--when mass media in the United States were still reporting it as a civil war--the NVA massed a battalion attack against the final Special Forces A camp in the A Shau Valley, thus clearing the most significant supply and troop infiltration route into I Corp, in the northern sector of South Vietnam. Without that route, the NVA could not have launched the massive Tet Offensive in 1968.
Because of the strategic importance of the A Shau Valley, MACV-SOG placed a premium on targets run in that AO. For Spike Teams assigned to those missions out of FOB 1, they were the most difficult and risky of targets: The NVA controlled the area, there was no friendly artillery support, and the triple-canopy jungle covered steep, mountainous terrain which soared above 5,000 feet in rain forests often cloaked with clouds, thus curtailing or precluding the use of air power.
The menace of the A shau Valley targets was dramatized in May 1968, when an entire Spike Team disappeared and another team was devastated by heavy NVA firepower while searching for the first team.
Whenever the NVA tangled with a MACV-SOG team, they suffered heavy casualties. Thus, the NVA knew the MACV-SOG teams and C&C teams knew and respected the abilities of the NVA. Clearly, the NVA wanted to hurt these elite teams--and hitting them at home would be hitting them where it hurt.
Unbeknownst to SF personnel at FOB 4, shortly after Tet in 1968, the NVA built a sand table of FOB 4 in the Marble Mountain caves to organize the 23 August attack. Marble Mountain was on the south side of FOB 4. Highway 1 bordered the western perimeter; an NVA POW camp was situated to the north of FOB 4/CCN, while the China Sea lapped lazily onto the white sandy beaches of the compound’s eastern front.
The Enemy Next Door
Marble Mountain was honeycombed with caves and trails. South along the China Sea, the beaches were flat. Abruptly, the two rugged peaks of Marble Mountain jutted up, and cradled between them was a pagoda, complete with monks who protested whenever U.S. troops got too close to their holy temple--but apparently didn’t seem to mind having NVA or Viet Cong cadre around.
In support of the conclusion that the NVA had infiltrated agents inside the camp is the fact that the NVA launched this attack when the number of soldiers within FOB 4 had swelled well beyond normal: There was an enlisted promotion board held the previous day; all of the FOB commanders, executive officers and their respective S-3 and S-2 officers held their monthly meetings earlier in the day; that, in addition to the fact the population had grown when the CCN headquarters was recently moved from downtown Da Nang to FOB 4, thus making it FOB 4/CCN.
“By the time the NVA sappers hit the camp, there had to be at least twice, maybe three times as many Special Forces troops in the camp as were normally assigned there,” recalls Watkins, who was in his second tour with MACV-SOG, at that time out of FOB 1, and had appeared before the promotion earlier in the day.
The spirit earlier that fateful day was “typical of any promotion board gathering,” Watkins said. “There was a lot of drinking, a lot of partying and general hell-raising” by the Special Forces troops. With any promotion board, the drinking was usually heavy because many soldiers hadn’t seen each other for extended periods of time, and at these gatherings, they tended to make up for the months apart during one day’s heavy drinking.
Inside Without A Shot
As America’s elite partied into the night, NVA sappers quietly prepared for their attack. One company dressed in white loincloths, with white headbands and a piece of white material attached to their Aks. The last company wore red.
The NVA troops began infiltrating through the thin wire in the southeast corner of the camp. For months, locals who worked at FOB 4 returned home through the wire. On that night, the NVA marched right into camp, heavily armed and carrying satchel charges.
Sometime after 0100 “all hell broke loose,” said former Green Beret Sergeant Ronald D. “Red” Podlaski. “At first, I though we were taking incoming.” What many thought were incoming rounds were satchel charges exploding throughout the compound.
One company attacked the American recon huts which sat in three north-south rows, on the eastern side of the camp. Another company of NVA nit the TOC, destroying it and damaging the commo center. Other sappers hit the officers’ quarters and transient barracks at the northwestern quadrant.
Podlaski was a team leader in recon company at FOB 4/CCN. The NVA sappers with satchel charges went up to the front door and threw charges into each plywood hut, which housed two to six Gis.
A medic who was staying with Podlaski that night later recounted: “We were lucky. The front door on our hootch had an extra-strong spring on it, so that the door was hard to open...When the sappers came to our hootch, they pulled open the door and threw the satchel charge. But the spring was so strong, the door closed so quickly that the charges bounced off the door and blew up the front steps.”
There was so much confusion and pandemonium the medic and Podlaski didn’t realize what had happened outside. “Hell, when we ran outside we didn’t realize the steps had been blown away so we fell ass over head,” Podlaski recalls.
As Podlaski and the medic fell, an NVA sapper opened fire on full automatic, shooting high: “He fired where he though we were going to be running. If we hadn’t fallen, he probably would have gotten us...Running recon in CCN we had plently of close calls in the field,” said Podlaski, who ran more than a dozen targets in Laos and Cambodia during his tour with MACV-SOG, “but I remember hitting he sand and disbelieving that the closest call of all for em was right there in camp, in CCN, when that sapper opened up on us. Unbelievable!”
A South Vietnamese CCN recon team member killed the sapper, as the indigenous troops rallied from their quarters.
Watkins was asleep in the BOQ along the northern quadrant of the camp because the transient billets were packed with people who had gone before the promotion board earlier in the day.
Like Podlaski, Watkins and several of the officers “were awakened by the explosions,” Watkins said. : thought we were taking incoming at first. Then, I realized we weren’t taking incoming and simultaneously, I regretted having given my Swedish K [to a friend] that night.
“All I had was my old Colt .45, which was in my flight survival vest...the NVA had knocked the air conditioners out of the wall and pushed several satchel charges into the building through the holes...”
As Watkins crawled down the hallway, several explosions ripped through the building. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief as he saw two officers looking out a nearby window. “I told the officers to get down on the floor or they weren’t long for this world.”
By then men in the camp began to put up flares, lighting the camp-turned-battlefield.
At some point, an AC-130 Spectre gunship with fore miniguns and two 20mm cannons arrived over CCN.
“Specter did a hell of a job,” Watkins said. “They dropped flares and caught some NVA, in the wire, plus they were able to hit a couple of pockets of NVA in the camp.”
Good Morning, Vietnam
At first light, Lieutenant Colonel Roy Bahr lead a relief force from FOB 1 down the coast of the China Sea into FOB 4, clearing all NVA sappers who had escaped along the beach from the camp after Spectre arrived.
Also at first light, SF troops tracked two NVA soldiers to an outside latrine at the northeast corner of the compound. Accounts of this are mixed: One officer said the NVA killed themselves with a frag grenade; a second account said the SF troops opened fire on the latrine, venting pent-up anger over the carnage wrought by the daring NVA night attack.
Staff Sergeant Robert J. “Spider” Parks returned to FOB 4/CCN shortly after first light. “It was a sight I’ll never forget,” Parks reminisced recently. The road into camp ran from the highway along the northern edge of the perimeter, with turn-offs for the helicopter pad, headquarters, and at the eastern end of the road, for the NCO club, mess hall and Recon Company.
As Parks walked down that road “it looked like a hazy movie scene. There was a haze hanging over the camp--you could still smell the cordite from all the weapons fire. People were running around, some of them still dazed by the night’s tragic events...
“There were still some sappers around in the camp and snipers firing down from Marble Mountain. The NVA fired on the ambulances leaving camp as well as the one pulling in. People in the camp got organized and linked up with the relief force Colonel Bahr brought in from Phu Bai.”
Parks pulled out his camera and took pictures of the dead enemy, including the NVA soldier Watkins killed with his .45. Some are included here.
Later that day, Watkins and several SF and indigenous recon troops went to Marble Mountain and found the sand table the NVA had used to rehearsed their attack on FOB 4/CCN.
The Enemy Within
There were several facts about the attack which were confirmed by Watkins and numerous survivors interviewed shortly after the FOB 4/CCN massacre:
* “It was obvious they had worked months on the attack...the NVA had good intelligence from inside the camp which helped them pick that night for the attack,” Watkins said.
* Prior to the attack, warning about security problems along the southeast perimeter, where locals walked through the barbed wire, were ignored. Additionally, the local security force appeared to cooperate with the NVA instead of defending the camp. NVA weapons and satchel charges had been cached inside FOB 4/CCN.
* The attack could have been worse: Some NVA troops carried maps which the local Viet Cong had drawn upside down. Thus, they ignored the indigenous recon billets at the southeastern corner of the compound, instead hitting the BOQ at the northern side of the compound. “That was a major mistake, because the recon indig reacted quickly and severely hurt the NVA that night. In ‘68, the indig at FOB 4 were outstanding and they stood tall that night,” Watkins said.
* “We were very fortunate in another aspect,” said Bahr, “because after our commanders meeting, many of us flew back to our FOBs. Thus, when we heard about the attack, I was able to put together the reaction force. We flew down in Kingbees (Vietnamese-piloted H-34s) before first light...otherwise the losses could have been much more crippling.”
* Many SF troops reacted slowly because there was too much boozing the previous night.
* The total of 17 SF troops klled at FOB 4/CCN “was the heaviest USASF loss in a single incident in SF history,” according to Green Beret magazine. Plus, “In the subsequent three days, eight more USASF were killed, six at Duc Lap”--Special Forces A Camp (A-239).
According to Green Beret, those killed at FOB 4/CCN were; Ssgt. Talmadge H. Alphin Jr. *Pfc. William H. Bric III *Sgt. 1st Class Tadeusz M. Kepczyk *Sgt. 1st Class Donald R. Kerns *Sgt James T. Kickliter *Master Sgt. Charles R. Norris *Sgt Maj. Richard E. Pegram Jr. *1st Lt. Paul D. Potter *Master Sgt Rolf E. Rickmers *Spec. 4 Anthonly J. Santana * Master Sgt. Gilvert A. Secor * Sgt. James W. Smith *Sgt. Robert J. Uyessaka *Ssgt. Howard S. Varni * Sgt. 1st Class Harold R. Voorheis * Sgt. 1st Class Albert M. Walter * Sgt. 1st Class Donald W. Welch.