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Defence Column

by Ranil Wijayapala

Youths flee Wanni as Tigers intensify conscription drive

LTTE faces heavy casualties in Northern battles:

It is usual for the Tiger outfit to go for desperate attacks targeting either Security Forces or civilians once they need to go for a large scale recruitment drive to strengthen their depleting ranks in the Wanni, the sole recruitment base left for the LTTE at present.

The deadly attack on the Anuradhapura Air Base was such an attempt by the LTTE to boost the morale of the Tiger cadres now clinging on to the outfit due to the guns pointed at their heads by the LTTE.

The attack on the Air Force base by the LTTE, of course was launched with multiple objectives. The air assets


Omanthai entry exit point

of the Sri Lanka Air Force were the main target of the Tiger outfit. There is no counter argument on it as they completed their mission deploying 21 of their highly trained suicide cadres.

Though the Tiger cadres engaged in the mission could not return to Wanni after completing their mission the LTTE did not spare even the dead ones.

They are now engaged in a process to launch a new recruitment drive to strengthen their depleting ranks using the dead ones to attract the young crowds who are fast distancing themselves from the LTTE.

However, the latest show off by the LTTE could not bring fruitful results to their recruitment drive as they could not attract the young crowds around them as it happened earlier.

The latest surrenders from the uncleared areas in Wanni show that the LTTE is now desperately in need of new recruits to replace large number of cadres who were killed in recent confrontations with the Security Forces in the Wanni.

But they are not in a position to recruit new cadres but also not in a position to retain the existing cadres with them due as they could not bear the pressures exerted on them by the Security Forces.

Many young cadres have started fleeing Wanni in search of their freedom with the Tiger Political Wing leaders, who are supposed to engage in political activities intensifing their operations to recruit every possible person to the outfit to defend their defence specially in the west of Omanthai.

It is now clear that the LTTE is concentrating more on their defences in the West of Omanthai as the pressure on them is very high from the Security Forces on these defences especially in the North and South of Madhu.

Three youth aged 26, 19 and 24 who have been abducted from their homes in Vattapalai, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi have been taken to Periyamadhu in the North of Vavuniya Mannar road to man the defences there in Vavuniya and Mannar borders.

However, these three youth managed to escape from the LTTE cells in Periyamadhu and walked towards the cleared areas in Mannar and surrendered to the Security Forces.

The way they managed to escape from the Tiger cells and walked into the uncleared areas unnoticeable to the LTTE and the Security Forces still remains a mystery as it is an extremely difficult task, considering the situation prevailing there in the North of Mannar.

They were under the custody of the Mannar Police when this correspondent met them on Wednesday and interviewed them with the help of a translator.

Twenty-six-year old Vincent Paul Maheshan, has been abducted by Inniyavan the LTTE Political Wing leader in Mulliyavali in the Mullaitivu district, on September 26 as he refused to accept the invitation extended to him by the LTTE to join the Tiger ranks.

Later, he has been taken to Mulliyavali Political Office and kept there for a few more days as he continuously refused to undergo LTTE military training. He has been blindfolded and taken to the Periyamadhu LTTE camp along with 50 more Tamil youth from various parts of Wanni.

Paul Maheshan, along with two other youth Yogaranjan Dunstant and Manuel Soosai escaped from the Periyamadhu training base as there was not enough security to keep these young recruits under the fold of the LTTE.

According to Maheshan many youth are hiding in the jungles in the Wanni to escape LTTE arrest but they have no chance to escape.

Dunstan and Manuel too had similar type of stories but there are a lot of disparities in their statements giving an element of suspicion whether they genuinely came and surrendered to the Security Forces.

Therefore, the Security Forces too should be on vigilance as there are many possibilities for the LTTE to deploy these young surrendees for their covert operations in the cleared areas as it is an extremely difficult task for them to infiltrate the Security Forces defences to launch attacks targeting ground troops.

The surrender of six youth who had been deployed in the LTTE defences in the West of Omanthai too gives a clear picture that the LTTE no longer is retaining young cadres under their command. They are ready to brave


The latest surrenders from the uncleared areas. Pics. by Rukmal Gamage

 all forms of obstacles in search of their freedom rather than committing their life for a cause that cannot be achieved during their life time.

These six youth who had been deployed to guard LTTE defences in the North of Mannar in Parappakandal area have also reached Mannar from Vedithalthivu crossing the shallow lagoon to surrender to the Security Forces.

Under these circumstance the LTTE has to keep many of the youth forcibly in the Wanni to guard their defences in the Wanni. The story revealed by the undergraduates who arrived at the Omanthai entry exit point to proceed towards their universities to continue their university education is also another factor to prove that LTTE is in a highly dire situation for new recruits.

According to these undergraduates, they had to surrender one of their family members to the Tigers to get their permission to proceed towards cleared areas to continue their university education.

These undergraduates have arrived in the cleared areas almost after one year after visiting Wanni through Omanthai entry exit point after the escalation of violence between the Security Forces and the LTTE since August 11 last year.

Through these facts it is now clear that LTTE has resorted to every possible means to strengthen the number of cadres keeping the Wanni population under severe pressure. Therefore, the funding of the Tiger outfit and other commitments made by the Tamil community on behalf of the LTTE has become immaterial in face of the acute shortage of manpower.

According to sources the LTTE has realised that the deployment or Makkal Padai cadres have become useless in the face of the threat posed by the Security Forces due to their small group operations west of Omanthai to neutralise the Tiger threats.

To face this situation the LTTE has adopted new strategies by deploying cadres from the Charles Anthony Brigade along with the two women’s brigade cadres from the Sothiya Brigade and Radha Regiment.

They have now stopped infiltrating the Security Forces FDLs west of Omanthai following bigger damages caused to them by the troops operating in these areas. There is tendency from the LTTE to withdraw from their positions in face of Security Forces attacks in spite of confronting the troops.

Troops operating under the 57th Division of the Sri Lanka Army under the Command of Brigadier Jagath Dias keep the LTTE continuously engaged in the area without allowing them shift from the area.

There had been intensified fighting in Vilathikulam, Mullikulam and Thampanai areas during the past one month with troops intensifing their operations to neutralise the Tiger threats. These three areas have become focal points for the LTTE to keep their pride and prestige in the Wanni.

They block the troop movement in the Vilathikulam as the fall of Vilathikulam will enable the Security Forces to march upto Periyamadhu, Thunukkai areas bordering Mannar and Vavuniya districts.

In the same manner Mullikulam has also become a focal point for the LTTE as the fall of Mullikulam enables the troops to reach Palampiddi and Vedithalthivu in the North of Mannar depriving them of another crucial sea belt similar to Silavathura in the South of Mannar which was used as their maritime hub after the loss of their grounds in the East.

Thampanai is also vital for the LTTE, especially for Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran as the fall of Thampanai also marks the loss of LTTE control in the Madhu sacred area. Since the area has been declared as a peace zone or either a High Security Zone, the people living under the pressure of the LTTE have now been shifted to Pallamadhu area where Tiger cadres have a huge presence along with their sympathizers.

But the LTTE is still making attempts to provoke the Security Forces to retaliate with their artillery fire by deploying one of their artillery guns in the border of the zone expecting the retaliatory fire of the Security Forces would hit the Madhu church to tarnish the image of the Security Forces.

The troops attached to 57 Division backed by the Special Forces troops who are playing the leading role, during past one month have been able to neutralise the Tiger threats in the area. With troops intensifying their operations in this area since September 12, more than 200 Tiger cadres have been confirmed killed after confronting the Security Forces at several locations.

The troops launched a major thrust on the Thampanai, Vilathikulam and Mullikulam gaining a major portion of the Tiger territory under their control.

Since the formation of the 57 Division to neutralise the Tiger threats from the West of Omanthai in February this year more than 1,000 Tiger cadres have been killed and 778 cadres have sustained serious injuries.

Contrary to this figure of the LTTE side 150 Security Forces have been killed since the formation of the 57 Division while 350 sustaining injuries.

Therefore, it very clearly shows that role played by the Security Forces in the West of Omanthai is not at all an easy task. But the troops are now engaged in a determined effort to make their goal a reality.

The Task Force -1 which was formed in support of the role played by the 57th Division is now in operation in the West and North of Mannar area with a view to fully secure the areas in the North and West of Mannar.

The troops now operating under the Command of the Task Force- 1, yesterday launched a major assault on the LTTE bunker line West of the Giant Tank.

They were able to capture a full bunker line in the West of Giant Tank killing at least 40 Tiger cadres. Troops recovered seven bodies of the Tiger cadres and observed another ten bodies of the LTTE lying ahead of the Security Forces defences.

Apart from this Security Forces through the intercepted radio transmissions of the LTTE also got the confirmation that 21 Tiger cadres have also been killed in this attack. The Security Forces are now consolidating their positions in the newly captured bunker line in the West of Giant Tank.

But there is no hesitancy on the part of the Security Forces to capture Tiger territory as it needs a bigger strength to man these defences while continuing thrust on the LTTE who are now on the retreat towards the centre of Wanni due to the acute shortage of man power and also fire power.

Though some critics say the ongoing monsoon rains in the Wanni is hindering the efforts of the Security Forces, the troops are continuing their small group operations against the LTTE effectively braving even the bad weather conditions. Therefore, continuous attrition on the LTTE would enable the troops to capture their territory with minimum casualties to own troops.

The new trend among the young to flee Wanni in search of their freedom will definitely put the Tigers in a hopeless situation in their bid to defend their strongholds in the Wanni despite their psychological operations to keep the young crowd with them.

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