First visit by a head of state:
President in Kilinochchi
Visits soldiers’ barracks and supervises facilities:
Greeting the soldiers whilst having tea with them.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday made a historic visit to
Kilinochchi, considered to be the first ever done by a Head of State.
Kilinochchi, the so-called political headquarters of the LTTE fell on
January 2, 2009 as the Security Forces brought the entire town and it’s
immediate environs under their full control.
The surprise visit by the President had lasted more than three hours,
where he had visited many important locations within the city, including
the hospital and soldiers barracks. According to sources, he had walked
freely in the streets, personally inspecting several sites.
The President had reportedly arrived in Kilinochchi around 7.30 am,
in a helicopter, after making a brief stop at Vavuniya.
He had personally looked into facilities provided to soldiers and
Inspecting LTTE made bomb recovered from Visuamadu.
The President’s goodwill visit yesterday coincided with the
traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year. He met with the troops, IDP’s
and other civilians in the area.
Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Chief of Defence Staff
(CDS) Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera, Army Commander Lieutenant General
Sarath Fonseka, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda,
Inspector General of Police Jayantha Wickramarathne had also accompanied
According to a member of his entourage, the President had personally
inspected the town visiting several important locations within the city.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Navy Commander
Wasantha Karannagoda and IGP Jayantha Wickremaratne joining
the tea party.
Pix by Sudath Silva
The town’s main water tank (destroyed by the fleeing LTTE cadres),
had come under close scrutiny of the President. Also former LTTE
political head quarters building, Peace Secretariat building too had
Later the President had made a visit to the 58 division headquarters,
and the soldiers’ barracks in the immediate vicinity, to the surprise
and delight of forces personnel.
He had paid special attention over facilities provided for the
soldiers, while personally visiting their lodgings. During the visit he
had personally observed the operations room in the 58 Division Head
Quarters and also had viewed aerial visuals on the ‘no fire zone’
obtained from UAV’s. The President had later gone to the Kilinochchi
hospital, spending time with the injured soldiers and other civilians.
He had distributed gift packs, after having a traditional new year meal
consisting of ‘Kiribath and Kevum’ with the hospital inmates.
During the occasion, the GOC of 57 Division, Major General Jagath
Dias and 58 Division GOC Brigadier Shavendra Silva had briefed the
President regarding recent military achievements. According to sources,
the President on the occasion had also paid close attention to the
prevailing situation in the ‘No Fire’ Zone and plans ahead with regards
to freeing trapped civilians.
A large stock of arms and ammunition recovered by 57 and 59
Divisions on display.
Later addressing the troops stationed in the area, the President
commended their courage and commitment. While saying that their selfless
dedication had brought the present victories, he had urged the soldiers
to continue the good work as victory was at hand.
The President had also emphasised the importance of safeguarding
innocent civilians and ensuring them a safe passage to escape from the
During his visit, the President had also visited Vavuniya and had
addressed troops located in the area. He had also advised officials to
expedite relief and welfare activities with maximum efficiency. For a
major period during the last three decades, the LTTE has given
Kilinochchi a symbolic importance, calling it their administrative
capital, even though the Government had been running most civil
administrative functions including banking, healthcare, trade, education
The LTTE first took hold of the town in 1990, when the Army withdrew
it’s forces from the area. Then later the security forces once again
regained control of Kilinochchi during operation Sathjaya 1, 11 and 111
in 1996. The Kilinochchi town fell into terrorist hands once again in
September 1998, and has been their administrative nerve centre until
forces liberated the area fully in January 02, 2009.