Unprecedented momentum in Army offensive - SF Chronicle
US: For the first time in more than a decade, Sri Lankan Government
Forces are making inroads into rebel strongholds and are within striking
distance of their capital, said the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle
A special article by the Chronicle Foreign Service reporter Jason
Motlagh, quoted officials as saying that Asia’s longest running conflict
could end soon. “There’s little dispute that the latest Army offensive
has forced the guerrillas to abandon large parts of their de facto state
and given the government unprecedented momentum.
An international crackdown on rebel fundraising and smuggling
networks and high-level defections have also undermined grassroots
support for the Tigers’ iron-willed chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, most
analysts agree,” Motlagh wrote.
Since January, when it scrapped a Norway-brokered cease-fire and
vowed to crush the Tigers by the end of 2008, the Government has poured
$1.5 billion into an all-out, multiple-front offensive that has killed
about 6,000 Tigers and reduced their last stronghold in the island’s
northern Wanni region by nearly 75 per cent, according to the Ministry
The Defence Ministry says military gains began in June, when Forces
seized the strategic Mannar Peninsula. In July, they overran a Tiger
naval facility and four more key bases.
The army is now attempting to seal off the northwest coast to cut a
vital Tiger weapons supply line from southern India, while
simultaneously driving up the eastern flank. The military says it is
within seven miles of Kilinochchi, the Tigers’ de facto capital and
nerve centre, where Prabhakaran is believed to be hiding in an
underground bunker. Fierce clashes are expected, as hundreds of Tigers’
elite forces are said to be dug in awaiting a final siege.
The Chronicle said a worldwide dragnet led by the United States and
the international police organisation, Interpol, on fundraising and arms
smuggling has seriously hurt the Tigers, which are listed as a terrorist
organization by the United States and the European Union.
Dozens of Tiger financiers and arms merchants have been arrested in
the United States, Canada, Europe and India, according to press reports.
Last April, New York police arrested Karunakaran Kandasamy, the
Tigers’ alleged U.S. fundraising director. He has been charged with
operating a front organization that held several fundraising events at a
church and public schools. And in June, the World Tamil Movement, a
Toronto nonprofit group, wired more than $3 million to overseas bank
accounts linked to the Tigers before its operations were shut down by
the Canadian government for alleged terrorist financing, according to a
report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A joint India-Sri Lanka
naval blockade of the Palk Strait waterway that separates the two
countries has further diminished the flow of arms, provisions and
materials according to several analysts.
But even if the Tigers are defeated as a conventional fighting force,
experts say, there is a consensus that it could regroup in remote jungle
areas to wage a protracted guerrilla war, it said.