Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sri Lanka landmine blast kills 2 officials -rebels

COLOMBO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Two Sri Lankan government officials were killed and three were wounded on Friday when a claymore mine exploded in a rebel-controlled northern region, the Tamil Tigers said.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) military spokesman R. Ilannthirayan said a Sri Lankan army team that had crossed into Nedunkeni area, apparently to target rebels, hit government officials by mistake.

"It was a deep penetration team, they launched a claymore attack against a vehicle belonging to the department of agriculture and killing two officials travelling inside and wounding a further three," he said.

There was no immediate comment from the military.


Govt. probes NGO support to LTTE by Norman Palihawadane

Government defence authorities have found that an NGO has built 450 houses for the LTTE adjacent to the LTTE’s Stanley Base in

Kanchikudichchi Aru, which was captured by the Police commandos on Monday.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse told The Island yesterday that the Government had commenced a probe into the NGO’s contribution to the strengthening of the LTTE in the East.

Some of the vehicles abandoned by the fleeing LTTE cadres, too, had been given by foreign NGOs, he said.

The NGOs had helped rebuild the LTTE under the pretext of tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation projects, Mr. Rajapakse said adding that that situation called for a special investigation.

He said, according to information that the military was now receiving, some foreign organisation had kept on replenishing medical supplies to the LTTE.

Following the fall of the Stanley Base, a large number of civilians, used by the LTTE as their human shields, had started to pour into the cleared areas from the areas currently under the LTTE control, he said.


INGO under Government scrutiny by Aamna Mahboob

The activities of an international NGO is under government scrutiny following revelations a hospital in rebel controlled Ampara, which came under the control of the STF on Monday, was being funded by the charity group.

According to sources the defence ministry was to hand over a report to the foreign ministry pertaining to their findings regarding possible links between the Netherlands based Zoa Refugee Care (ZOA), and the LTTE which will be scrutinised before the next course of action is taken.

The Daily Mirror learns logos of the NGO were found on several items of equipment in the rebel hospital at the ‘Stanley Camp’ in Kanchkidichcharu Ampara, a key rebel camp in the area which was overrun by the STF in an operation on Monday.

“This maybe a plant and we are still not sure if there are any links. All we know is that the logo was found on several items in the camp,” a Defence Ministry source said.

However ZOA officials in Colombo said they were surprised at the allegations and were attempting to obtain more information over the alleged findings.

“This is not true. We have nothing to do with the LTTE. We are awaiting further details on this issue,” ZOA country director Bernard Jafperf Faijer told the Daily Mirror.

ZOA is active in Ampara in the east with its local head office based in Colombo and according to Mr. Faijer the aid group operates an office 7 km away from Kanchikudichcharu, the location where the alleged ZOA branded items were found.

‘Stanley camp’ in Kanchikudichcharu was the main centre used by the LTTE to continuously carry out attacks on the security forces positioned in the area. In addition this was also the main centre to train the forcibly recruited children by the LTTE and had also housed a large number of child soldiers.


LTTE desertions increase as forces step up pressure in East by Shamindra Ferdinando

The ongoing military campaign in the East, centered on LTTE-held areas in the Batticaloa district, has given the military a clear edge over the enemy.

The two-and-half month long campaign involves Special Forces, Commandos and the infantry. The ground action is backed by the air force. "We have inflicted sizeable losses on the enemy. They are on the run," a senior military official said on Sunday.

Referring to bomb attacks on two private buses over the weekend, he said that this could be a sign of desperation. "They are trying to offset battlefield losses by triggering chaos in the South."

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he detailed a series of successful operations in the Batticaloa theatre, where the army overcame initial setbacks to gradually increase pressure, thereby facilitating forays into the Vanni cadres’ heartland. "What we are doing is unconventional. In fact, we haven’t tried this sort of a thing on this scale before. The bottom line is that we are hitting them at their doorstep"

Quoting from intelligence reports and enemy broadcasts, the official said that over 500 LTTE cadres perished in action. He placed the number of senior cadres killed at seven with the last being a former commander of Charles Anthony ‘Brigade’ considered an elite fighting formation. The former commander is believed to have succumbed to his injuries suffered in a recent artillery attack. The seven leaders are believed to have held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

The military said that a large number of middle level leaders too had been killed in confrontations. The army had lost 35 personnel.

Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera and Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka recently visited the 23 Brigade Headquarters at Welikanda for a first hand briefing.

The Vanni leadership’s failure to replenish units fighting in the East has triggered desertions. Since the launch of the ongoing campaign about two and half months ago, over 80 cadres had surrendered. "They painted a picture of despair in areas under their control," the official said. Almost all of them had not received a decent meal for some time, he said. "We provided them with a good meal with plenty of vegetables," he said. "They are a beaten lot." The military expects more desertions as supplies plummet due to military action.

The army has committed sizeable resources for the offensive. The military said that the collapse of the enemy’s eastern bases would have a devastating impact on the units based in the Vanni.


STF captures ‘impregnable’ Stanley Base, Tigers flee

STF finds NGO-run LTTE hospital

Tigers remove child solders

Explosives laden vehicles recovered

Vehicle bombs meant for Colombo?

The LTTE yesterday vacated a major base, situated in the Thoppigala jungles, to avoid advancing police commandos.

Police units reached the Kanchikudichchi Aru base, also known as the Stanley Base, around two pm.

The military sources said that defenders did not resist the advance and withdrew leaving behind a stock of arms, ammunition and dry rations.

Commandos recovered three motor cycles and a truck laden with explosives.

Police had found evidence that a number of child soldiers had been undergoing training there and had been removed by the fleeing Tigers.

Police believed that the explosive laden truck was to be used to carry out a suicide attacks presumably in Colombo. According to the police the three motor cycles too had been fitted with explosive devices.

Police believed that a Foreign NGO ZOA had funded a hospital run by the LTTE in the Thoppigala jungle. The hospital, one intelligence camp, two sub camps, and the main base had accommodated about 200 LTTE cadres.

Police also recovered a stock of anti personnel mines and two water bowsers belonging to the TRO. Police also recovered two generators. Commandos are in the process of clearing the LTTE facility.

The ongoing operation is part of the overall strategy to weaken the LTTE in the Eastern Province.

Police also came upon a holiday retreat inside the camp. The LTTE hierarchy is believed to have made use of it to take a break and plan out future campaigns.

An LTTE commander is also believed to have perished along with some of his cadres in a skirmish with the advancing Commandos.