Monday, June 04, 2007

Conflicting claims as heavy fighting rages in Vavuniya

Conflicting claims on casualties

COLOMBO: In heavy fighting across the forward defence lines in Vavuniya district in the north between the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and the Tamil Tigers since Saturday, dozens on both sides are believed to have been killed.

While both sides claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on the other, it is not possible to independently verify the claims as the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission is virtually grounded and there are no other independent observers in the battle zone.

According to TamilNet, it is the first time the Tigers have breached the Sri Lankan forward defence lines in Vavuniya.The Defence Ministry acknowledged the fighting and said the military troops launched a decisive retaliatory attack, engaging heavy artillery and mortars at identified LTTE gun positions northwest of Vavuniya.

"The LTTE flanks were repulsed due to the heavy military thrust, where it is believed that a large number of terrorists are entrapped in Mullikulama area. According to military officials, the army troops have `sledge hammered' the main terrorist offensive line, leaving large number of LTTE bodies scattered in the area. LTTE casualties are believed to be high with soaring death figures according to intercepted enemy communications," it said.

The Ministry said three soldiers died of injuries, while 20 with minor wounds were admitted to the General Hospital at Anuradhapura.

TamilNet said the Tigers launched a commando raid on Saturday night on Vavuniya Mannaar border villages where the Army had recently advanced its forward defence line.


Quoting LTTE military spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan, it said the Tigers destroyed an SLA artillery launch pad, seized military hardware, including a Buffel armoured personnel carrier, and established their FDL positions in Mullikkulam and Vilaththikkulam.

"Meanwhile, informed military sources in Vavuniya said 20 SLA troopers were killed, 40 wounded, an ammunition dump was destroyed in Pampaimadu and that the Tigers have seized a big haul of weapons in their raid Saturday night. Fighting is still continuing", it said.

TamilNet, which carried picture of a purported body of a SLA soldier, said the photos issued by the LTTE to the media indicated that the Tigers recovered at least one soldier's body.

Separately, the military said the security forces manning the forward defences north of Mannar shot dead two LTTE cadres.


Heavy fighting continues

More than 60 fighters were killed in heavy fighting continued for the second day yesterday at the Vavuniya defence lines, military and rebel reports said.

"Fierce fighting is still going on in the Pampaimadu areas on the Vavuniya Forward Defence lines, where hundreds of Tigers launched a heavy attack on the military on Saturday night," a senior military official in the area said. In the retaliatory attack by the forces, 52 terrorists were killed and a large number was wounded. The terrorists who fled in the face of army retaliation had abandoned a haul of arms and ammunition, the Media Center for National Security said.

"LTTE fired mortars and artillery targeting the Vavuniya FDLs at 9 pm on Saturday. Tiger attempts to infiltrate the FDLs during the fire fight were successfully repulsed," an official of the MCNS said. He said child soldiers too were involved in the attack.

"It is reported until yesterday ten soldiers had been killed and twenty injured," the official said.

"We have launched a search operation in the Mullikulam area, where a large number of LTTE cadres remain trapped," he said.

However, unofficial reports claimed the major Tiger assault destroyed an army small ammunition dump and the rebels had infiltrated the military defences, though the military had managed to drive them back. The military had later launched an artillery barrage using multi barrel rocket launchers into Tiger held areas causing heavy damage to the rebels.

Meanwhile, LTTE spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan told a news agency they destroyed a key government artillery position and weapons depot during the battle. "Storage and artillery units were destroyed and were burning till dawn," Ilanthirayan had said, adding that some 10 government soldiers were killed.

In the east - Thoppigala - heavy fighting that began last Friday continued yesterday, as government forces and the LTTE were locked in heavy fighting, the military said.

The clashes erupted last Friday as the military mounted a major operation to wipe out the Tigers from Thoppigala, where some hundreds of Tigers were reportedly trapped.


Heavy fighting in Lanka, 82 killed

At least 52 Tamil Tiger rebels and 30 Sri Lankan soldiers were killed in fierce battles in northern Sri Lanka yesterday, according to both sides.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacked army defence lines between Mannar and Vavuniya districts since late Saturday night inflicting heavy losses, LTTE spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan said.

He said the LTTE destroyed an army artillery launch pad and seized military hardware, including Buffel armoured personnel carriers. They also released pictured of the captured vehicles and locations.

The LTTE said they killed 30 troops and recovered the bodies of 16 of them in heavy fighting.

However, the military said they were back in control of the area that separates the rebel-held territory from the rest of the country along a physical bunker line stretching from Vavuniya to Mannar.

"The army troops successfully repulsed and counter attacked inflicting heavy damages to the Tigers," the defence ministry said in a statement.

"In the retaliatory attack, 52 terrorists were killed and a large numbers were wounded." "The terrorists who fled in the face of army retaliatory attacks had abandoned a haul of arms and ammunition." Residents in Vavuniya said they heard heavy shelling in the area continuing today also.

The upsurge in fighting came ahead of a visit to the region by Japan's special peace envoy to Sri Lanka, Yasushi Akashi, who is due to travel to Vavuniya during his four-day visit starting Tuesday.

Akashi was expected to try and revive the island's stalled peace process which has been deadlocked since October 2006.


Tamil Tigers regrouping in the east after the split in Karuna group

Tamil Tigers are making a desperate attempt to re-establish their lost position in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka after he split between Karuna and his army commander, Pillaiyan, weakened the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal.

Thambirajah Ramesh has managed to make an amphibious landing in the Vakarai - Kathiraveli sea coast with nearly 100 of LTTE cadres with the main objective of disrupting the orderly resettlement of the thousands internally displaced persons.

It is reported that Col. Ramesh of the LTTE, who was earlier in charge of Vakarai, has managed to make an amphibious landing in the Vakarai - Kathiraveli sea coast with nearly 100 of LTTE cadres with the main objective of disrupting the orderly resettlement of the thousands internally displaced persons (IDPs) that is being painstakingly carried out by the Sri Lankan Government officials.

Sources told “Asian Tribune” that 100 LTTE cadres are engaged in planting claymore mines to disrupt settlement of IDPs and shell indiscriminately army camps in the hope of driving the IDPs back to refugee camps. The Tamil Tigers use the refugees as human shields.

Though there are about 300 LTTE cadres holed up in Thoppigala LTTE jungle base, Commanders Jeyam and Nagesh who fled from Vakarai after its fall are preparing mobile groups in Karadiyananaru, and Kokkaddicholai jungle terrains in the Batticaloa district to fire artillery shells and destabilize those areas that had already fallen into the hands of the Sri Lankan Army.

“Asian Tribune” understands that earlier, before the split in the TMVP on May 4th, Pilliayan planned to march into the jungles of Thoppigala and attack the Tigers bases in that area. But the TMVP forces were weakened after the split. Karuna group is left with nearly three hundred cadres, out of which 180 of them are child soldiers below the age of 18 and are under the command of Jeeventiran and Thileepan.

Karuna is badly in need of cadres to man his military wing and it is reliably learnt that he has now taken into active service those LTTE cadres who fled from LTTE during the Vakarai battle and surrendered to the TMVP.

Recently Karuna’s cadres while riding in two three-wheelers from Amparai to Pottuvil in the Amparai District were waylaid and attacked by the LTTE cadres.

It was reported in that attack TMVP cadre Supithan and the three-wheeler driver Seenithamby Anbalagan from Kaomari were killed.

After attacking the TMVP cadres an LTTE group leader in the Amparai district telephoned Iniyabarathi, TMVP Commander for Amparai district, and has aasked: “Machchan, how is our adi ? (assault).” They further told Iniyabarathi that this is the Pilliayan style of assault and this will continue.

Inniyabarathi complained to Karuna that Pilliyan’s people has attacked and killed his people.

In the meantime, after the fall of Vakarai, Vanni Tigers has dispatched Colonel Ram back to the east. Earlier he fled to Vanni from the East with Bahnu and Sornam. He too is tasked to launch guerilla attacks in the East to disrupt the peace in the areas captured by the Sri Lanka Government forces.

Ram has managed to enter Amparai with 60 of his cadres from Vanni. Ram has began organizing mobile groups of ten cadres in a group in the jungle areas to attack the TMVP bases, cadres and also shell the Sri Lanka Army bases and to lay claymore mines to target Sri Lankan Army and Police.

In the meantime, it is reliably learnt that the former TMVP commander might move from Trincomalee to Batticaloa south with his men to attack the LTTE converged in Thoppigala jungles as already planned by him.