A sure sign of desperation

Cowardly terror strikes like yesterday’s claymore mine attack on a civilian bus killing about 25 persons and injuring over 80 others at Katubedda and the explosion inside a bus killing two passengers and injuring twelve others in Kandy are sure signs of desperation of the Tigers under siege in the Wanni. Their soft underbelly lies exposed to the armed forces forging ahead on the Mannar and the Welioya fronts with well-fortified LTTE defences crumbling. On Wednesday, the army captured a part of an eleven-kilometre-long and seven-foot-deep trench which the LTTE had built painstakingly on the Mannar front and that breach has rendered the whole length thereof vulnerable. The LTTE is aware that the army is on a mission to block its access to the sea west of the Wanni, on which it is dependent to smuggle in supplies from India. The LTTE is also fast losing ground on the Welioya front.

Life has become a day-and-night nightmare for the LTTE in spite of its rhetoric and occasional forays here and there. Unless there is something heaven-sent in the next few months, Prabhakaran has little hope of clambering out of the military mire of his own making. One of the desperate methods he has adopted to stall the military onslaught he cannot face is to bring pressure—both local and international—to bear on the government. On the international front, it has the support of INGOs and some members of the international community but at home its allies are not in a position to deliver the goods, given the tremendous popular backing for the war effort.

Therefore, Prabhakaran is all out to deprive the government of public support for the war by terrorizing people and providing ammunition to its rivals for an anti-war campaign. In other words, he is trying to help his friends to help him get out of trouble. The deeper the army moves into the Wanni, the higher the incidence of terror attacks on civilians is likely to be. However, there will be a point beyond which the LTTE cannot co-ordinate those strikes. It has already had to outsource claymore mine and bomb attacks, as in Assam. That is an indication of the LTTE’s logistical difficulties due to mounting military pressure that has had a debilitating impact on its organizational structure. Its arms and explosive caches which were abundantly replenished thanks to heavy infiltration of the city during the absence of war, too, will be depleted with the passage of time. The detection of bombs, arms and even bombers augurs ill for an unsettled LTTE.

However hard it may try, the LTTE will not be able to break the will of the people to resist terrorism. This country has withstood 25 years of brutal terrorism and the LTTE has run out of its surprises. That it will never agree to a political solution as all that it wants at this juncture is a breather is only too well known.

However, it is incumbent upon the government to devise ways and means of protecting the citizenry against terror strikes. There is much to be desired from the state intelligence agencies and the police, which seem to lack vigilance and foresight. The Colombo underworld is evidently playing host to the LTTE and this nexus needs to be severed effectively and urgently for terrorism to be defeated.

No amount of attacks will help Prabhakaran cover up the fact that he is fighting a losing battle.

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