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End of road for Tigers as troops close in on Pooneryn

As troops continue their forward march from all four major battlefronts the LTTE is hit with a problem regarding their priority to decide whether they should go defend their pride and prestige or to defend their strategic strongholds as they are fast losing their strength on all four fronts.

The LTTE is confronted with this dilemma as Kilinochchi, the ‘capital’ of the LTTE’s imaginary Tamil Eelam which is considered the pride of the LTTE and its strategic strongholds Pooneryn and Mullaitivu are already under threat by the Security Forces. The troops of all four offensive Divisions now operating in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts are within striking distance to Pooneryn on the North Western coast, Kilinochchi in the centre and Mullaitivu on the North Eastern coast with troops reaching the strategically important Kumulamunai village by yesterday.

If there was any contingency plan for the LTTE to defend all these strongholds, which are vital for their future existence, the LTTE is fast receding from that capability, as they are not in a position to manage with the remaining strength with the troops launching a military thrust simultaneously on Pooneryn, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.

It was after the news about the troops’ attempts to open a land route to Jaffna via Mannar - Pooneryn - Sanguppiddy A-32 road hit the streets after the comments made by Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka at a function held at the Gajaba Regimental Headquarters in Saliyapura Anuradhapura, that the LTTE sent their hard core cadres to Pooneryn to block the possible routes to Pooneryn within the past few days.

But the LTTE has shown its incapability to deploy hardcore cadres all along the defenses to cover the Pooneryn sector to stop the advance of the troops, according to the revelation made by female LTTE cadres captured by the troops in Valayakudiyrippumoddai area in the South of Pooneryn and Paranthan road on Tuesday.

According to the revelation made by an English teacher turned Tiger cadre, an English teacher attached to Paranthan Maha Vidayalaya and drawing her salary form the Education Department, 100 such teachers and government servants have been forced to man the defences in the Pooneryn sector.

If the LTTE is not lying about its capability, it is obvious that they are not in a position to keep its strength in the backyards of their strongholds. The Security Forces have already reached the turning point of the battle as by now as the Tiger outfit is not in a position to manage its cadres to man their frontlines.

If they cannot deploy the cream of their cadres at a time they are going to lose one of the key strongholds, Pooneryn, they are at an utter loss in defending their strongholds as losing Pooneryn is a bigger blow for them than losing Kilinochchi.

Troops operating in the Mannar-Pooneryn A-32 road near 8th milepost Pictures by Rukmal Gamage

It is because they are losing the entire Western coast on the Security Forces and losing their capability to keep sea lines of communication across the Western coast with the South Indian side. Moreover, the Security Forces will be able to open a land route to Jaffna through Mannar - Pooneryn A-32 road relieving a heavy burden on the defence expenditure of the country.

Further the Security Forces will be able to relieve more than a Division strength from the Jaffna peninsula to strengthen the presence in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu district to expedite their military operations. Therefore, the speedy march of the 58 Division commanded by

Brigadier Shavendra Silva has become a real headache for the LTTE leadership as a majority of its total strength has been

deployed to hold the defence lines in the South and South West of Kilinochchi to stop the advance of the troops towards Pooneryn.

With the loss of Pooneryn, the LTTE is losing its capability to control the Jaffna peninsula through their long range artillery guns located at the edge of Pooneryn. At the verge of losing Pooneryn the LTTE has reportedly shift their 130 mm artillery guns from Pooneryn via Pooneryn Paranthan road. That was why their guns were kept silent when Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka visited Jaffna on Tuesday.

According to military sources the LTTE has shifted these guns to North East of Kilinochchi town to control the troops advance into Pooneryn and Kilinochchi from the Western flank.

By yesterday the troops attached to 58 Division cleared almost all the areas on the Western coast except for Pooneryn and few land areas south of Pooneryn.

It was on Wednesday night troops launched clearing operations to take Devil’s Point and Vallaipadu the last LTTE

smuggling points on Western coast before Pooneryn under Security Forces control.

Apart from this another column of troops of the 58 Division are also now operating closer to Pooneryn Paranthan road in certain areas and are ready to cut off the road at any moment in the coming few days. So a handful number of dates are left for the troops to take control of Pooneryn the last bastion on the Western coast.

As one section of the troops heads towards the North the 56 Division operating in the Omanthai area has cleared the LTTE defence line in Omanthai whilst troops attached to the newly formed Task Force III under the command of Brigadier Satayapriya Liyanage have also launched their operations form the North West of Mankulam and captured more than a three Kilometre stretch on the A-9 road in Panikkankulam area amidst stiff resistance from the LTTE.

However, the LTTE has not been able to stop the advance of troops with its depleting strength and firepower. The 57 Division operating in the south and west of Kilinochchi also have reached closer to Kilinochchi town and close to enter the build up area in the Kilinochchi town from two directions.

According to ground troops they can see some of the buildings in the Kilinochchi town from the distance they are operating at present. They are poised reach enter Kilinochchi town at any moment the Army Commander thinks is appropriate for them to do so.

The Mullaitivu battlefront also got a boost on Wednesday, as 59 troops crossed a massive open terrain in the West of Nayaru lagoon between Thannimurippukulam and Kumulamunai to take control of Kumulamunai village which is the first village after they passed the Andanakulam forest reserve in the South of Mullaitivu.

The 11 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Priyanka Fernando which was operating south of Nayaru lagoon entered Kumulamunai village after the troops attached to 7 Gemunu Watch battalion and 14 Vijayaba Infantry Regiment captured the 11 Km long Tiger bunker line from Thannimurippukulam to Kumulamunai. The 7 Gemunu Watch battalion is now under the command of Lt. Colonel Chaminda Lamahewa who assumed duties yesterday as the Commanding Officer of the battalion after Lt. Colonel Priyantha Perera took over as the Brigade Commander of the 631 Brigade of the Task Force III.

The entry of troops into Kumulamunai village is a big blow to the LTTE as troops can now move into Mullaitivu through a built-up area. The 59 Division has marched more than 16 Kilometres to reach the Kumulamunai village passing a thick jungle area in the Andanakulam forest reserve.

This is the first time the Security Forces had reached Kumulamunai after commencing operations from the Weli Oya sector south of Mullaitivu.

With these developments, it is imminent that the Omanthai Entry Exit Point would be shifted northwards most probably to the south of Oddusudan once troops take the entire area in the south of Mankulam under their control very soon.

According to sources, the Sri Lanka Army has intimated to the International Committee of Red Cross to be prepared to function in the south of Oddusudan to facilitate the functions at the Entry Exit Point.

It was amidst this situation the LTTE has taken steps to deploy armed civilians to replace its depleting strength. According to ground troops, many of the Tiger cadres operating there lacked knowledge on what is going on in the battlefront and were not aware of the presence of the troops as almost all their major defence lines which gave some sort of idea about the areas under their control, have been captured by the troops by this time.

If the true picture is given about the situation, according to ground troops, the LTTE has once again switched to creating human shields in the Wanni pumping civilians who had undergone weapons training to the frontlines keeping them completely under darkness about what is going on in the battlefront.

So troops operating in some areas close to Mankulam have been confronting with a section of armed cadres manning bunker lines after being dumped by the LTTE apparently after giving them only basic weapons training. There is no distinction between these cadres and the civilians once their weapons are removed from them if they get killed in confrontations with the Security Forces.

The revelation by the English teacher turned Tiger cadre captured by the 58 Division troops is a classic example for this. Like her many innocent civilians forcibly kept by them inside the Wanni are facing same destiny at the hands of the LTTE.

What the LTTE is trying at this moment is to make use of the civilian population entrapped in the Wanni, to achieve multiple objectives. They can deploy these civilians to defend their forward defence lines in Mankulam and in the areas close to A-9 road and also in other areas whilst deploying their hardcore cadres to confront with the troops where there are no major defence lines.

On the other hand they can put the blame on the Security Forces after categorising these cadres as civilians once they get killed in confrontations. Therefore, the situation has prompted the relevant authorities to think twice about the civilian population now being fed by the Government after sending them food and other essential items in UN convoys as their destiny is not clear, deep inside the uncleared areas in Wanni.

The international community who is very much concerned about the plight of these civilians should seriously consider as to whether they should be kept under Tiger control. They should put pressure on the LTTE to let the civilians go out of this conflict affected areas for their own safety without becoming the part of the human shield created by the LTTE.

They should be aware of the fact that the LTTE as the most ruthless terror outfit in the world will not spare a single civilian life to defend themselves from the advancing troops, as history itself proves the fact that they have no regard for humanity when it comes to its survival.

This situation has to be taken very seriously, as the Wanni liberation is reaching one of the most decisive phases in the coming week in which the LTTE will be left with no other option but to accept their humiliating defeat at the hands of the Security Forces.

So the time is ripe to take precautionary measures to make sure that the LTTE would not make use of the civilian population as a shield to defend themselves from the advancing troops.

***********************

Army’s kindness perfect antidote to Tigers’ inhumanity

Surrendered female cadres tell a tale of woe:

Terrorists are terrorists only when holding weapons. They become civilians once they give up arms. It is incumbent on the Security Forces in accordance with the internationally accepted norms to treat them accordingly whether they are on the battlefront or somewhere else.

The 58 Division troops under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva exhibited their humane qualities once again even at a time they were fighting the enemy, even at the risk of their life to give the terrorists due treatment once they give up arms.

It was a heavily fortified defence line that the troops of the 582 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Sanajay Wanigasinghe had to capture to clear their route towards Pooneryn. They had to cross a huge open terrain to reach this LTTE defence line in the form of a ditch. They opted to cross this open terrain during the night as it is difficult to get any cover from the enemy during day time.

Troops treating the captured female LTTE cadres

Fierce fighting erupted in the Tiger defence line as they moved into the area. More than 30 Tiger cadres were reportedly killed in the fierce battle that erupted in the Valayakudiyurippumoddai area some six Kilometres East of A-32 road.

Pin drop silence ensued there soon after the leader of the LTTE killed himself to avoid being captured by the advancing troops. All guns went silent after the fierce battle. Troops were now ready to search the area and collecting bodies of the dead cadres and their weapons.

They found three female cadres still alive in the trench line. They were willing to surrender. Troops could easily have killed them and gone away. No one is there to question them about their deaths. But they took a chance, though it was risky to reach armed cadres soon after a fierce battle. They took the three female Tiger cadres under their custody.

One female cadre was having a gun shot injury in her hand and other two were in good form. The troops of the 12 Gemunu Watch under the command of Nandana Dunuwila took care of the female cadres. They were taken to the Advanced Dressing Station and given medical care to them.

The startling revelation came only when they were interrogated by the Security Forces. One female cadre spoke in English. The 58 division Commander himself questioned the female cadre as she spoke good English. She was an English teacher attached to Paranthan Maha Vidyalaya and forced to join the LTTE ranks to avoid her teenage brother and sister being enlisted to the LTTE as the LTTE demand at least one member from each family to the outfit.

Upon interrogation the English teacher revealed that she was drawing her salary from the Education Department though she is serving the LTTE. “There are more than 100 of my batchmates serving the LTTE as they have been forced to do by the LTTE as they forcibly kept the civilians in Wanni against their wish,” she said when she was interrogated.

She also admits that though they are being fed by the Government and drawing salaries from the Government they have been forced to fight the Security Forces of the same Government. Most Government servants are forced to do so in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts.

She was surprised when the 58 Division Commander Brigadier Shavendra Silva told her, “You were a terrorist. But you are not a terrorist now from the time you give up weapons. We consider you as a Sri Lankan and a sister”. That was not the picture given to them by the LTTE.

She is now willing to tell the true picture of the LTTE and to say that LTTE is only engaged in a losing battle and they will not be able to win this battle.

This will be a good eye opener for the international community especially to the Human Rights activists to decide who is genuinely concerned about human rights and who is not.

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