Govt. tightens screws on Tigers

Extra troops to East as northern
campaign intensifies

160 claymore mines and 120 mm
mortar rounds recovered

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The LTTE, struggling to make its presence felt in the Eastern Province, is being brought under intense pressure as security forces turn on the heat on the group in the region.

Despite the heavy commitment of troops to the northern and Vanni fronts as well as the Weli Oya sector, Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka has further strengthened the army presence in the East. Fonseka has pledged more reinforcements to the eastern theatre to establish an overwhelming military presence.

A spate of recent detections by the army in the Thoppigala area uncovered sizeable caches of arms and ammunition buried by the LTTE as troops advanced on their bases last year.

Cordon and search operations, snap road blocks and raids conducted ‘on information’ or elicited from suspects had caused sizeable losses on the enemy. The ground action against the LTTE in the face of daunting task of maintaining a minimal level of sea line of communications between the East and the Vanni (Mullaitivu) due to absolute SLN superiority (between Illankanthai-Yan Oya) would cause severe difficulties, military sources said.

Wednesday’s killing of Shankar at Eravur, widely believed to a senior deputy to Keerthi of the LTTE Intelligence Wing highlighted the ongoing battle between security forces and the LTTE.

Police commandos bagged Shankar, two days after the navy ambushed an LTTE unit operating in the Kuchchaveli jungles in the neighbouring district. The LTTE lost three cadres during the brief but fierce Kuchchaveli battle. The remaining group had fled the area leaving behind dead and four T 56 assault rifles, a small stock of ammunition and dry rations.

The LTTE is unlikely to receive bodies of cadres killed in action in the East as the ICRC has declined to transport them across the Omanthai entry/exit point. The ICRC recently said that it wouldn’t accept the responsibility as the LTTE had not ‘recognised’ presence in the East.

On Wednesday evening, a joint group of army, navy and police during a search carried out at Oaluttu, Trincomalee recovered one T-56 assault rifle, two magazines, 59 rounds of live ammunition and four hand grenades.

At Karuwalpody, Batticaloa on the same day, police commandos found 83 mortar rounds buried in a jungle.

In the neighbouring Ampara district, police commandos recovered one claymore mine and two detonators, hidden in an abandoned area on the same day.

The military said that the LTTE had buried arms, ammunition and equipment in various parts of the Eastern Province for use by small groups of infiltrators. But the army has been successful to a large extent in the province where many buried stocks had been recovered.

At Meeyangolla, Batticaloa, troops during a search on Wednesday (9) recovered 85 claymore mines, 41 T 56 assault rifles, five light machine guns, four multi purpose machine guns, one rocket propelled  launcher, one T 81 weapon, one .22 rifle, 685 rounds of M - 16 ammunition, 20 rounds of rocket propelled grenades, ten RPG chargers, five Kgs of C – 4 explosives and one MPMG (multi purpose machine gun) links.

At Kalmunai, police recovered one 8kg claymore mine and a roll of wire with the help of an LTTE cadre who surrendered early this week. He also revealed the identity of a covert LTTE operative. This led to his arrest.

At Madagalla, Thoppigala on Monday (7) troops recovered a neatly packed 120 mm mortar, one 12.7 weapon with three drums, one 60 mm mortar, one 80 mm mortar bipod, two multi purpose machine gun tripods, 450 anti personnel mines, eleven TNT slabs of fifteen kgs each, thirty claymore mines of two kgs each, two five litre cans of C-4 explosives and 500 electric detonators buried in the area.

On the previous day, troops during a day-long operation at Meeyangolla, Thoppigala troops recovered 43 claymore mines (7 claymores of 15 Kg each and 36 claymores of 5-7 kgs each), five kgs of C-4 explosives, 25 meter-long detonator code, 42 hand grenades, 2000 rounds of T-56 live ammunition, 175 pen torch batteries and 60 torch batteries. 



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