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All fronts close in on Kilinochchi

Fall of Kilinochchi imminent:

Tigers fleeing to jungles cornered

Military outnumbers Tigers

If there was a ray of hope for the LTTE to cling on to their remaining strongholds Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Muhamalai in the Jaffna front, they have lost all those hopes with the fall of Paranthan which is the key location that linked all their strongholds together with key land routes.

The Task Force I or the 58 Division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva made this historic move on Wednesday evening amidst fierce battles that erupted in the Paranthan West and the Jaffna lagoon front. They were short of only few hundred metres to the key Paranthan junction by Wednesday evening and that part too was taken under their control just few hours before the dawn of the year 2009 which has been the Year of Heroic Victory.

Therefore, the capture of Paranthan at the dawn of the year 2009, put the Security Forces efforts to eliminate terrorism from the Sri Lankan soil in a new height as those moves put the remaining part of the Vanni liberation operation and the liberation of the remaining parts of the Jaffna peninsula to a much convenient position. Not only Paranthan, the Tiger administrative capital too is now under threat of falling to the Security Forces as it has been sealed off by the 58 Division from the North of Kilinochchi whilst 57 Division is advancing to the heart of Kilinochchi, from the South and West of Kilinochchi. Therefore the move made by the 58 Division after capturing Paranthan, in actual terms had cut the throat of the LTTE paralysing the operations of the LTTE in the Kilinochchi, Jaffna front and Mullaitivu.

The LTTE never expected losing Paranthan as they could not read the battle properly and had made their full concentration on the Paranthan junction and Kilinochchi front aiming to defend their prestigious stronghold.

The 58 Division plan has never been read by the LTTE as they outflanked all the LTTE defences and strategies of the LTTE after each and every effort they made to stop the advance of the troops towards Paranthan.

While progressing Eastward 58 Division troops managed to expand their areas towards the North when LTTE was defending Adampan village in the North West of Kilinochchi which was used as a buffer zone to Kilinochchi by the LTTE after the fall of Akkarayankulam village.

The moves by the columns of troops by the 58 Division towards the Jaffna lagoon in the north, the LTTE too had to deploy their cadres in a wider front from Adampan to Jaffna lagoon to effectively face the 58 Division.


Army Commander
Lt. General
Sarath Fonseka

It was a strategy to fix the LTTE in the ground and they did not anticipate that through those moves the 58 Division had cleared the paths to capture Paranthan, Elephant Pass and Kilinochchi simultaneously whilst forcing the Tigers to thin out their forces over a wider area which were initially committed to a narrow front towards Paranthan and Kilinochchi. The aggressive military operations conducted by the 57 Division also helped a lot for the 58 Division to make these tactical moves as the LTTE had to commit considerable number of cadres in the Kilinochchi front.

First, the 58 Division had to cross the earth bund that was created by the LTTE to delay the troops advance towards Paranthan after the fall of Pooneryn. At the initial stage of the battle troops faced certain drawback in their bid to capture this earth bund as LTTE tried to trap the soldiers crossing this earth bund and advance towards the Tiger territory directing rains of artillery and mortar towards them soon after they crossed the earth bund. A fair number of deaths and casualties were reported and a number of soldiers reported missing after their initial attempts to capture the earth bund. The same situation reported was from the 57 Division too in their bid to capture this earth bund. But troops learnt many lessons from their drawbacks and it was on December 16, they saw a major breakthrough in their attempt to take control of this earth bund with the 57 Division, 58 Division and the 53 and 55 Divisions launching simultaneous attacks on Tiger defences.

Although a fare number of casualties and deaths were reported from the Security Forces during the fierce battles in the 57 and 58 Division fronts the 58 Division troops managed to capture one kilometre stretch of earth bund form the North of Pooneryn - Paranthan B-69 road.


Brigadier
Shavendra Silva

The 58 Division facing all counter attacks by the LTTE continuously held this stretch of earth bund and advanced ahead of it from the Jaffna lagoon front whilst taking the control of the lagoon front and expanding their positions along the earth bund from Jaffna lagoon to South of Pooneryn - Paranthan road.

They faced many counter attacks by the LTTE and the biggest counter attack came on December 23 as rains of mortar and artillery fell onto the Security Forces defences starting at 5.30 a.m.

It continued till 8 am in the morning. It was exactly few hours after that the 58 Division captured Sinnaparanthan area located some five kilometres west of Paranthan. It has been later revealed that the LTTE had launched this massive counter attack after they received a stock of ammunitions unloaded from a bigger ship which is now clandestinely operating in the deep sea closer to Sri Lankan territorial waters and transported in medium size trawlers. They have unloaded this ammunition stocks, according to intelligence reports, to the Mullaitivu sea and directly taken them to the 58 Division front.

However, the 58 Division managed to link up their positions along the earth bund from Jaffna lagoon to Pooneryn Paranthan front and continued to expand towards the South of Pooneryn Paranthan road towards Adampan village.

By December 30 the 58 Division had created ground work to capture either Paranthan or Pooneryn townships as they were closing onto the A-9 road from both directions. But Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka decided to give priority for the capture of Paranthan considering the tactical importance of the location. It was on the basis that the fall of Paranthan also heralded the downfall of Kilinochchi and also the Jaffna front as they cut vital arteries that link the Kilinochchi and Jaffna fronts.


Security Forces on the forward march Pictures by Rukmal Gamage

The capture of Paranthan meant the LTTE losing the vital links between Jaffna fronts and Mullaitivu too, as they could not operate through the A-35 road once the troops captured Paranthan junction and the stretch of A-9 road the North of Paranthan. They have to use the coastal link from Chempiyanpattu to Mullaitivu to keep strategic links between Jaffna front and Mullaitivu which are in a desolate conditions at present.

Considering all these factors troops of the 58 Division decided to launch the offensive to capture Paranthan whilst maintaining pressure on Kilinochchi as they were operating one and half kilometres away from the Kilinochchi station.

Troops of 58 Division went on a wider front to Paranthan and cut off A - 9 from 3 Km North of Paranthan a location between Paranthan and Elephant Pass whilst another column of troops cut off the A-9 road in general area famously known as Karandi Bokkuwa which is located some four Kilo meters South of Paranthan junction.

The 9 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Lal Chandrasiri went and cut off the A-9 road from the North of Paranthan while 12 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Nandana Dunuwila advanced towards the A-9 road between columns of troops of the 9 Gemunu Watch and the Paranthan junction. The 17 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Keerthi Kottewatta advanced head on to the Paranthan junction in their bid to capture the key junction town.

Troops attached to the 10 Gajaba Regiment under the command of Major Udaovita advanced from the South of Pooneryn Paranthan road to cut off the A-9 road in the general area Karandibokkuwa to the North of Kilinochchi.

Since it was a totally difficult task for the infantry troops to cross the open terrain stretching more than one and half Kilo meters to advance towards A-9 58 Division troops used the 30th night and the 31st morning before the first light to bring in troops as close as 500 meters to the West of A-9 road and advanced towards West of Paranthan on December 31 morning without taking much casualties.

During day time troops managed to pin down LTTE from their defensive position while attacking them accurately with the use of their massive fire power. By December 31 evening the LTTE cadres were thoroughly demoralized and disorganized and it was found that no senior commander came on to defend their positions against the aggressive troops who were determined to capture Paranthan and the A-9 before midnight 31, 2008.

That was one of the rare occasions where the troops observed LTTE leadership blaming each other without adopting any method to prevent the aggressive troops of the 58 Division.

Sri Lanka Air Force Fighter jets also operated in support of the 58 Division throughout day hours taking amazing hits.

Troops were determined to capture Paranthan latest by 9 pm and managed to complete the task just around 8 pm capturing Paranthan township and the total A-9 road creating history in Eelam War.

Fall of Paranthan would also open a gateway to the LTTE’s remaining defences at Vaddakkachchi, and Puthukkudiyiruppu areas on the A-35 road (Paranthan- Mullaittivu). Muhamalai in the southern part of the Jaffna peninsular neck will also be untenable for the LTTE with the fall of Paranthan.

The chemical factory was the hallmark of Paranthan, providing direct and indirect income to many locals. In 1986 SLA positioned a small administrative base at Paranthan, which was linked to the main base at Kilinochchi. LTTE disrupted civil administration in the area in early 1990s. SLA liberated it from the LTTE grip during the ‘Sathjaya I and II’military campaigns conducted in September 1996. However, troops had to make a tactical withdrawal in September 1998”, Army sources said. With the capture of Paranthan the 58 Division troops immediately started their advance towards Kilinochchi from the East and West of Paranthan by yesterday afternoon sealing off Kilinochchi from the Northern direction too.

Troops attached to 10 Gajaba Regiment under the Command of Major Udaowita and 11 Sri Lanka Light Infantry battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Kithsiri Ekanayake are advancing towards Kilinochchi from the East of A -9 road whilst troops attached to 12 Gajaba Regiment under the command of Major Saliya Amunugama and 6 Gemunu Watch battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Kamal Pinnawala advancing towards Kilinochchi town from the West of A-9 road. Troops observed the way LTTE fleeing from the area loading their stuff in vehicles and recovered 12 dead bodies scattered in the area.

The civilians living there had taken this situation for their advantage to flee towards Security Forces.

With these moves the capture of Kilinochchi the de-facto Tiger capital has also become a matter of days as 574 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Senaka Wijesuriya advancing from the South of Kilinochchi and have passed the Iranamadu junction whilst 572 Brigade under the command of Colonel Dhammika Jayasundera and 571 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Harendra Ranasinghe advancing towards the centre of Kilinochchi from the West and South West direction..

As of yesterday they have completed more than 60 per cent of their mission of Kilincochchi giving early signs of fall of Kilinochchi within a days period as the troops are aggressively advancing towards the heart of Kilinochchi in all fronts without leaving any room for the LTTE to operate there.

The only option now available for the LTTE is to flee towards the jungle patches in Puthukuduiruppu and Vishvamadu in the East of Iranamadu tank but will be once again cornered in this jungle terrain as 59 Division troops are advancing towards Puthukuduiruppu from the West of Mullaitivu after they consolidated their positions in the Mulliyawali village.

Therefore, the LTTE is now poised to see the end result of their tactical withdrawal they made since the beginning of the Sampur operation as they have been left with only narrow stretch of sea belt in the North Eastern coast of Mullaitivu to flee from the Security Forces and seek safety outside their illusive Tamil Eelam.

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