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Two years of fighting brings positive results in anti-terror drive

Troops step into Kilinochchi district:

 

 

As the attempts of the LTTE to take the cover of a unilateral ceasefire declared in view of the 15th SAARC Summit failed, with the Government rejecting the offer, the Security Forces went ahead with their military thrust in the Wanni stepping into the Tiger territories the Security Forces had never stepped into during the past two and half decades.

The troops in the Wanni battlefront were baffled last week as they heard the news about the declaration of a Unilateral Ceasefire by the LTTE as they were not aware of the correct position taken by the Government in response to the LTTE offer for a truce for the SAARC Summit period, as they are too far from the mass media to get a clear picture of the situation.

However, the assurance given by the President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his visit to the military hospital in Anuradhapura and during his speech at the People’s Alliance election rally in Anuradhapura became a tower of strength for the troops in the battlefront and also for the gallant soldiers who had sacrificed their lives and limbs to fight against LTTE terrorism.

The words of President Mahinda Rajapaksa coincidentally came on the date the Security Forces marked the completion of two years to the ongoing military operations to fight LTTE terrorism with the launch of Mavil Aru humanitarian operation to liberate the Mavil Aru sluice gates on July 26, 2006.

His words gave a tower of strength not only to the troops in the battlefront but also to the entire nation who were eagerly awaiting an end to the ongoing conflict as they are now witnessing that it was due to the lack of political will and correct leadership the North East conflict dragged on for more than two and half decades without a proper solution either to defeat LTTE militarily or to end it by implementing a political solution.

Within the past two and half years the entire military setup was changed to take up the biggest challenge of fighting LTTE terrorism, after the LTTE deviated from the path of peace negotiations by boycotting the peace talks.

The military was geared to fight against the LTTE in true sense of defeating it, but not with the objective of appeasing the nation with temporary victories.

Political decision

The Political leadership given by the President Mahinda Rajapaksa enabled the military leadership by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, three Forces Commanders, Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and Air Force Commander Air Marshal Roshan Gunatilleka to bring the LTTE into its lowest ebb in the two and half decades long conflict.

The Security Forces have proved beyond any doubt that the victories they have achieved were not temporary ones as they have not lost control of any of the bastions they have captured during the past two years.

The liberation of the Eastern province from the clutches of the LTTE and the subsequent measures taken to establish democracy there is testimony. They have not only defeated the LTTE in the East, they have also taken the armed groups which defected from the LTTE into mainstream politics.

Therefore, any person has the liberty to see the way the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim people are living peacefully in the Eastern province where LTTE has no say. The men who defected from the LTTE have now become true democratic leaders of the Eastern province.

They are enhancing their capacity to act within a democratic framework under trying conditions, with the LTTE trying to sabotage the smooth functioning of the democratic institutions in the Eastern province.

The success story of the Eastern province proves the effectiveness of the efforts taken by the Security Forces to defeat LTTE terrorism with a view to establish democracy in the North and East where the people have been deprived of their democratic rights under the iron boot of the LTTE.

Therefore, there is not an iota of doubt that the Security Forces have engaged in a fruitful effort after sacrificing their lives and limbs on behalf of their motherland.

Their too year long journey has given confidence to the entire nation that the final result of the ongoing military thrust on the LTTE strongholds is definitely a fruitful one at the end of the day. At present the Security Forces have taken upper hand in the Wanni and Northern battlefront after capturing many of the Tiger strongholds in the Wanni.

It was after the formation of the 57 Division in late 2006 in Vavuniya front from Poovarasakulam area and then proceeding to Thampanai area.

A frequent visitor to the Vavuniya battlefront can have an idea about the distance they have advanced from the original Forward Defence lines of the Security Forces which were located hugging Vavuniya - Parayanalankulam A-30 road and Medawachchiya - Mannar A-14 road.

Today the Security Forces have advanced 62 kilometres from their original FDLs capturing Thampanai, Sinnapandivirichchan, Periyapandivirichchan, Madhu Shrine and Periyamadu. They have now advanced upto to Vellankulam - Thunukkai - Mallavi road which had not been under the control of the Security Forces after late 1980’s.

Therefore, for anyone who is trying to measure the achievements by the Security Forces area wise, the Security Forces have a considerable area to declare as the territory taken under their control within the past two years.

This also includes the land area taken under the control of the Security Forces in the Eastern province including the heavily fortified LTTE stronghold Thoppigala which was described by the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as a mere jungle liberated by the Security Forces.

Milestone

The important milestone of the 57 Division under the command of Major General Jagath Dias was marked for the first time with the regaining of the Madhu shrine area after a painstaking effort to achieve the task without firing single bullet within the shrine area.

It was on April 3, 2008, the Catholic Church decided to convey the sacred statue of Our Lady Madhu from the Madhu shrine to St. Xavier Church in Thevanpiddi in Vellankulam, an area they never thought the Security Forces would advance within such a short period of time.

The Catholic Church had to convey the statue of Our Lady of Madhu back to Mannar as Velllankulam was surrounded by the Security Forces by last week. The venerated statue was conveyed to the Mannar Bishops House via Omanthai entry exit point.

On Tuesday the Security Forces Commander in Wanni, Major General Jagath Dias officially invited Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph to takeover the Madhu shrine which had been repaired under the supervision of the Army and after the clearing of mines and traps laid by the LTTE.

The holly statue is due to be shifted to the Shrine within the next few days to have the annual feast in mid-August with the participation of Catholic devotees from all four corners of the country.

That will be an important milestone in the Wanni liberation as it can clearly demonstrate to the entire nation the safety of the area after the liberation of Madhu shrine area and the distance the Security Forces have advanced three months after the Security Forces captured Madhu shrine on April 23, 2008.

Currently the troops attached to the 57 division under the command of the Major General Jagath Dias are operating in the South of Mallavi and South East of Thunukkai, the second important Tiger stronghold in the Mullaitivu district.

According to ground sources troops are poised to capture Thunukkai and Mallavi as they have captured a considerable number of locations South of Mallavi and Thunukkai after cutting off the Thunukkai-Mallavi- Mankulam road from different directions.

This is the first time the Security Forces are touching Thunukkai Mallavi, Mankulam road which had been used by the LTTE as a supply route connecting to Mullaitivu in the North Eastern coast.

Fierce fighting erupted south of Mallavi last week as troops captured Vavunikulam where the famous Sivam Kovil area is located. During the counter attack launched by the LTTE to secure the life of ‘Pallawan’ the troops were able to kill more than 36 Tiger cadres and collect their bodies along with 120 mm artillery mortar launcher and two 80 mm mortar launchers.

This is the first time the Security Forces could capture 120 mm mortar launcher of the LTTE in the Wanni battlefront. This clearly demonstrates the weaker position the LTTE is now having in Wanni.

The troops attached to the 58 Division which began operations on the Mannar front with the liberation of the Silavathura in the South of Mannar on September 2, 2007 is also now on the verge of reaching a historic occasion as they are poised to step into Kilinochchi district for the first time in the two year long fight against LTTE in the Wanni.

Troops attached to 58 Division currently operating in the Northernmost end of the Mannar district in the North of Vellankulam surrounding the Vellankulam town located in the North Western coast after Illuppaikadvai and Mundampiddi from the Southern direction.

They have captured a nearly six kilometres long earth bund stretching from South of Vellankulam towards the Vellankulam Thunukkai road towards North Eastern direction.

By the time this newspaper goes to print the Security Forces would have stepped into Kilinochchi district marking the complete liberation of the Mannar district from the clutches of the LTTE.

Mannar district is a part of Wanni and the liberation of Mannar district fully, will mark the completion of nearly two third of the Wanni liberation operation. Only few areas in the Vavuniya district and Mullaitivu districts are now under the control of the LTTE.

Liberation

The liberation of Silavathura, Madhu, Mannar ‘Rice Bowl’, Adampan, Giant tank, Parappakadattan, Pappamoddai, Viddathalthivu, Pallamadu, Illuppaikkadavai can be considered as important milestones in the liberation of the Mannar district.

Kilinochchi district is the only district entirely dominated by the LTTE from the Pallai in the South of Muhamalai in the isthmus of the Jaffna peninsula and running towards North of Vellankulam in the North Western coast and towards the areas surrounding the Kilinochchi town on the A-9 road including the strategic Pooneryn, Paranthan and Elephant Pass which fell under LTTE control in the late 1990s.

With these developments the LTTE too has reportedly changed the command in the battlefront with Theepan taking the command of the battlefront from the Bhanu and Lakshman who were commanding the Wanni battlefront by last week.

This is either due to their inability to command the cadres on the front or due to the battleground shifting to the area under the control of Theepan the overall commander for the Muhamalai front.

Once the 58 Division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva steps into the Kilinochchi district border the 59 Division under the command of Brigadier Nandana Udawatta are also making headway into the Tiger stronghold in Mullaitivu after taking the control of Nityakaikulam tank in the South of Mullaitivu.

This is the first time the Security Forces have taken control of Nityakaikulam tank area fully after the Operation Thunderbolt launched in 1991 to clear the area in the Mullaitivu jungles.

A number of Bases coming under the 1-4 Base complex have also been taken under the Security Forces control by this time with the capture of the Sugandan Base on Sunday.

According to ground sources, the LTTE is having a strong presence in the South of Mullaitivu as they strongly feel they have no escape if they lost control of the Mullaitivu jungle area at this point of time where they have lost control of many of their bastions in the Wanni.

However, troops are expecting considerable resistance from the Thannimuruppukulam in the Weli Oya front which is the only sources of water available for the Tiger cadres operating in the Mullaitivu jungles. Once the Security Forces capture Thannimurippukulam, all areas south of Puliiyankulam, Nedunkerni road are expected to fall to the hands of the Security Forces.

With the newest battlefront opened in the West of A-9 with the launch of Task Force -II to flush out Tiger threats on the West of A-9 road things are becoming more realistic in achieving the task of liberating the entire Wanni within a realistic time frame.

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