Tuesday, March 27, 2007

LRRP infiltrates Mullaithivu

Sri Lanka army's Deep Penetration Unit known as the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, today assaulted a rebel vehicle movement deep inside rebel held Mullaithivu region.

Rebel vehicle movement from Mallavi to Palappani was interrupted due to the claymore mine explosion set off by the LRRP. The actual target or the result of this DPU attack cannot be revealed for security reasons. LRRP activity in the Mullaithivu region has vastly increased during the recent past. Many unexplained claymore explosions have been occurring in the Mullaithivu in recent past and most of these targeted tiger intelligence wing members.

Mullaithivu is a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) stronghold which is highly fortified and it is guarded by elite tiger infantry units.

Meanwhile, SLAF Kfir bombers today carried out a bombing sorties over Vallipunam (also located in Mullaithivu district). Target of the air raid was an LTTE training base. LTTE casualty details due to this attacks are yet to be known.


LTTE Major killed in LRRP attack

A claymore mine set off by the Sri lanka army's deep penetration unit known as the Long Range Recon Patrol damaged a tractor transporting LTTE cadres in Nandunkerni (Wanni District- rebel held area) on the 10th. The attack killed a senior LTTE leader and wounded 5 others.

The perished LTTE leader is identified as Major Kannan. Kannan was a specialist in advanced weaponry and weapons training. Wounded LTTE cadres are said to be receiving treatment in Mullaithiv hostipal.

This is the third claymore explosion which went of in this area during the last few weeks. LTTE senior leadership has restricted public appearances in the face of increased DPU attacks conducted by the army. They have also deployed special teams to search and destroy DPU members but this has not lead to any success so far.

The army's deep penetration unit (LRRP) is said to be one of the most succesful Long Range Surveillance (LRS) units in the world. LRRP units boast kill ratios as high as 300 LTTE cadres for 1 LRRP member.


This is the third claymore explosion which went of in this area during the last few weeks. LTTE senior leadership has restricted public appearances in the face of increased DPU attacks conducted by the army. They have also deployed special teams to search and destroy DPU members but this has not lead to any success so far.

The army's deep penetration unit (LRRP) is said to be one of the most succesful Long Range Surveillance (LRS) units in the world. LRRP units boast kill ratios as high as 300 LTTE cadres for 1 LRRP member.


Damning report on raid by Poorna Rodrigo

Presidential commission accuses ASP Udugampola of acting like supreme commander in Athurugiriya raid; UNF government and then police chief held responsible for exposing military secrets.

A Presidential Commission which probed the controversial police raid on the Athuruguirya military safe house last year has accused ASP Kulasiri Udugampola of behaving like a "supreme commander" and acting "above the law", thus jeopardising the security and the military strategy of the armed forces.

"If one is to accept the totality of the evidence led before the commission, it seems that ASP Udugampola was immune to any supervisory procedure and he has behaved as a supreme commander who was above the law," Commissioner D. Jayawickreme said in his report.

Mr. Jayawickreme, a retired Court of Appeal judge, in a report handed over to President Chandrika Kamaratunga, said he would hold the Prime Minister and the ministers concerned, the then IGP Lucky Kodithuwakku and his successor T.E. Anandarajah and all other senior police officers, responsible for the illegal act of ASP Udugampola.

"They were simply powerless to prevent the illegal action of ASP Udugampola even after they were apprised of the facts of this safe house and the activities of its personnel."

The report warned that if such "ill conceived police actions" as it happened in the case of the safe house were allowed to continue it would be "suicidal" to the safety of the nation.

It said the Athurugiriya raid had resulted in neutralising the military strategy of the Army in combating terrorism in the North East.

The commission said the unfortunate exposure by the media of highly successful LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) operations undertaken by the Directorate of the Military Intelligence had resulted in the LTTE acquiring the well-guarded secrets and led to a situation where the LTTE was able to liquidate those who had double crossed the group.

Stressing the need to take remedial action forthwith and punish those responsible for what the commission sees as a "great betrayal", the report recommended that steps be taken to de-politicise the Army and the Police and place them in the hands of capable young men to infuse professionalism and prepare the men for battle whenever the government wanted one.

It also recommended that military strategies of the LRRP and similar groups be known only to the Commander-in-Chief, the Commander of the Army and other Commanders and called for more punitive measures to punish people who abuse the system.

According to the report, the saga of the Army's Athurugiriya safe house began two months prior to the raid, when the then UNP Chairman Charitha Ratwatta and Vice Chairman Daya Pelpola, in a letter dated November 10, 2001, complained to the Army Commander Lionel Balagalla regarding the safe house seeing it as a bid to use explosives on meetings of the UNP leadership and the leader's campaign bus.

"The UNP Chairman warned the Army Commander that they would hold him responsible in the event of any such unfortunate incident."

"Mr. Ratwatta also has said to the commission that the information in the letter that the Directorate of the Military Intelligence was coordinating an attempt to use thermobaric explosives on the meetings held by the UNP was divulged by late Gamini Athukorala, the Deputy Leader of the UNP and unfortunately as dead men cannot speak, the Commission had no way of verifying the truth of this statement."

The report said that it was highly probable that certain officers in the Army along with ASP Udugampola, manipulated the story with the expectation that it would affect the results of the elections in favour of the UNP, and that in the event of UNP coming into power they would be adequately compensated.

However, the Army Commander convinced Mr. Ratwatte that there was "no substance in the information set out in the letter and Mr. Ratwatte was satisfied with the reply.

The matter however did not end there.

"If it was so, the matter should have ended then and there, but it did not. After the election results of December 5, 2001, the UNF came into power and within a month the Athurugiriya safe house was raided by ASP Udugampola from the Kandy Kennels Division under the guise of looking for suspects in the Udathalawinna murder case causing the greatest damage to the Army's LRRP operations which were extremely successful in countering and arresting terrorism," the report said.

Condemning the manner in which Mr. Udugampola took into custody several army personnel as illegal, immoral and in violation of all the rules and regulations of the police, the report said that it proved he had acted "arbitrarily and capriciously".

Saying that it is "unfortunate" that the new government could not prevent or control the actions of ASP Udugampola, despite the party chairman being convinced that there was no danger, the commission said that Mr. Udugampola proceeded with his illegal raid and investigations disregarding the orders from his own Inspector General of Police, Senior Police officers and even the advice of the Attorney General.

"The UNF Government's continued silence, in the wake of the obvious embarrassment, made matters worse in the case of the Athurugiriya safe house fiasco."

The report said Interior Minister John Amaratunga had himself admitted that the raid was "ill-conceived and harsh treatment was meted out to the officers. But the belated action by the Minister in refusing to issue Detention Orders on the arrest of armed personnel could by no means "rectify the damage" already caused to the Army's successful covert operations.

Minister Amaratunga had sent his own private secretary to assist ASP Udugampola in respect of the raid on the safe house and to give wide publicity to it, notwithstanding the fact he accepted it was "improper and unethical" for a Minister to interfere in police investigations, it said.

The commission said there was evidence that Lt. Col. Padmasiri Udugampola, SLCMP, brother of ASP Kulasiri Udugampola, Major General Ivan Dassanayake and Colonel K.H.N.S.S. Dharmaratna, Major A.C.A. de Soysa, SLCMP, Major B.M.A.N.S.K. Karunaratne, MIC, Corp, J.H.A.P. de Silva, JHAT-MIC and Corp. M.P.A. Pieris, JHAT-MIC, were all aware of the impending raid and had directly and indirectly assisted ASP Udugampola in raiding the safe house.

The report said that if these officers had any doubts about the safe house they should have brought it to the notice of the Army Commander and moved the military police to investigate.

"But those officers, without doing so, have conspired with Kulasiri Udugampola to raid this safe house for their own personal benefits. Moreover, none of these officers had informed the Army Commander or the Director, DMI, about it before the raid," the report said.



Thanks to the wide publicity given to a clumsy police raid on a safe house of the military intelligence unit of the Sri Lanka Army at Athurugiriya at least one person serving that unit had been killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Batticaloa, and many more are in mortal danger, army sources revealed.

The same sources said two more spies serving the unit had been also kidnapped by the Tamil Tigers as a result of the exposure of the raid conducted by Police Superintendent Kulasiri Udugampola backed by the Interior Minister John Ameratunga.

The premises in Millennium Park, Athurugiriya, where the raid took place were rented by the Sri Lanka Army, as a safe house for a unit of the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) run under the Directorate of Military Intelligence. A police team led by Udugampola raided on the house and arrested the army captain who was in charge of the unit and five soldiers including a former member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who had now joined the unit. The unit was part of a highly successful program by the Sri Lanka Army to penetrate deep into the Tiger territory and assassinate LTTE leaders. Many such as the self-styled Colonel Shanker, a confidante of the Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had been killed by the LRRP.

Army commander Lt. General Lionel Balagalle dispatched his Director of Military Intelligence Brigadier Kapila Hendavitharana to avoid the clumsy arrest of the very efficient long-range unit from being taken away to be locked up. Hendavitharana reportedly arranged a telephone conversation between Inspector General of Police Lucky Kodituwakku and Udugampola to stop the embarrassing situation. Kodituwakku requested the SP to consider what the army intelligence man had to say. But the SP with alleged UNP connections instead phoned up Interior Minister John Ameratunga and complained there were pressures on him. To back Udugampola Ameratunga sent a senior officer of his ministry. Udugampola then arrested all men and took all weapons in to his custody. They were arrested on a charge of a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, now found to be baseless. After all the damage done and under growing protests of the army the UNF government released the arrested.

All this talk about a plot to kill Ranil Wickremesinghe was first published in the official organ of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Tamil Guardian during November of last year. It was complained to the army commander more or less the same time by the then UNP chairman Charitha Ratwatte and his deputy Daya Pelpola. Many consider it as a plant by the Tamil Tigers with the help of the UNP to destroy the LRRP unit of the army. Both the CID and the Army have found the assassination story baseless.

After details of the highly secretive unit was divulged to the police the Tamil Tigers killed the civil intelligence unit chief of the army in Batticaloa. The man, an ex-PLOTE member , Vidhyadharan was gunned down by LTTE assassins at Kottiyapula near Batticaloa on January 16. On January 21, the LTTE also kidnapped two more spies working for the same unit.

By January 4, the LTTE intelligence unit, apparently after receiving information from Police or political sources close to the Police had launched a crackdown on Tamil civilians suspected to have helped the LRRP teams in the Eastern province. The Sunday Times, a pro-government weekly in Colombo reported that an unknown number of civilians had been taken into custody for interrogation by LTTE intelligence cadres. Many of them could be dead by now, many feared.

The Lakbima newspaper quoted army commander Lt. General Lionel Balagalle of having said that the killing and the kidnapping took place because this meaningless police raid had exposed details of army intelligence. Lt.General Balagalle reportedly charged that because of a politically motivated police officer the patriotic and brave officers and their secret operations were unceremoniously exposed and now the army was finding it difficult to provide adequate security to army men thus exposed and their families.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times, a pro-government weekly owned by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe' S cousin, Ranjith Wijeyawardene said the arrest of the members of the LRRP unit has turned out to be illegal and all those who were arrested would soon file a fundamental rights case against the government.