Saturday, November 3, 2007

The LTTE: On the back foot?

The much-hyped euphoria after the daring attack on the Sri Lankan Air Force base at Anuradhapura on October 22, 2007 was short lived. Within a span of just ten days of the attack carried out by a 21-member suicide commando team belonging to the Black Tigers on the base, jets belonging to the Sri Lankan Air Force carried out precision raid in an area at Thuruaiaru in Iranamadu, Kilinochi district about 70 kms north of Vavuniya in the early hours of November 2, 2007. 6 top members of the Tamil Tigers were reportedly killed in the air strike. The LTTE confirmed the death of the chief of its political wing Suppaya Paramu Thamilchelvam, self-styled Lt. Col Anupumani alias Alex who headed the “strategic communication division” of the Tigers, Mikuthan, Neathaji, Aadchiveal and Vaakaikkumaran.

According to sources in the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry, the raid was successfully carried out due to the synergy achieved through excellent co-ordination between the military intelligence and the air arm.

On October 31, 2007 the Sri Lankan government decided to impose press censorship under the Public Security Ordinance on news coverage related to military confrontations and offensive operations. The clamp down came in the wake of the recent LTTE raid on Anuradhapura air base. It could also signal the start of a possible ground offensive to be launched by the army in the north to take out the Tigers.

LTTE’s recent setbacks:

Over the past two years, since the breakdown of the truce and the split in the LTTE, the Tigers have been facing reverses on the ground.
Kokkadicholai, approximately 20 km south-west of Batticaloa, fell on March 28, 2007
In July 2007, the security forces had captured Thoppigala (Baron's Cap ), the last stronghold of the Tigers in the east.

The Sri Lankan Navy for the first time in the conflict achieved unprecedented success against the LTTE.

Sri Lankan Navy sank the 10th LTTE ship "Matsushima", with a capacity of 3000 tons was the largest ever arms smuggling vessel that belonged to the LTTE, about 1700 km south of Dondra point, the southern tip of Sri Lanka on 07th October 2007, around 0930 hrs.

“Manyoshi” was destroyed on September 10, 2007 at 7.00 a.m.

The second LTTE ship to be destroyed was “Seishin” on 10th September at 5.00 p.m.

The third LTTE ship, “Koshia”, was destroyed after a hot pursuit, which lasted well over four hours, on the 11th around 3.30 a.m.

Since the bulk of the arms and equipment for the LTTE came from the sea, the loss of the ships dealt a severe blow to their arms shipment network.

It remains to be seen whether the LTTE will retaliate with a sensational strike or a suicide bombing on a high value target to boost the flagging morale of its cadres or has the will to resist been broken with the loss of key leaders and reverses on the ground.