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First Head of State ever to visit Kilinochchi

Kilinochchi's Moment of truth

President Mahinda Rajapaksa 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 its immediate environs under their full control.

The President’s Men: President Mahinda Rajapaksa commending the courage and commitment of the troops.

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 a.m., in a helicopter, after making a brief stop at Vavuniya.

He had personally looked into facilities provided to soldiers and civilians.

The President's goodwill visit coincided with the traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year. He met with the troops, IDPs 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 the President.

President in Kilinochchi

According to a member of his entourage, the President had personally inspected the town visiting several important locations within the city.

The town's main water tank (destroyed by the fleeing LTTE cadres), had come under close scrutiny of the President.

Also former LTTE political headquarters building, Peace Secretariat building too had been visited. 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 fores 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 Headquarters 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.

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 Tier clutches.

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 past 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 and welfare.

The LTTE first took hold of the town in 1990, when the Army withdrew its 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 2, 2009.



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