US guns capable of firing chemicals found

Thermo-baric weapons, 9 mortars among largest arms haul on Vanni front

The largest ever arms, ammunition and equipment recovery made in a day on the Vanni front over the weekend included US built guns capable of firing chemicals, thermo-baric weapons and nine mortar launchers of different calibre.

Military spokes-person Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told The Island that although they had been aware of the possibility of the LTTE acquiring thermo-baric weapons, the recovery of Tippman A-5 guns capable of firing deadly chemicals was startling. The use of thermo-baric weapons is prohibited under international law. The thermo baric bomb — features a two-stage explosion. The first blast occurs upon the bomb’s penetration of a cave, tunnel or a bunker and scatters explosive dust throughout the area where the bomb lands. This is followed a fraction of a second later by a second, larger explosion that literally sucks oxygen out of a confined space.

During bloody battles for Kilinochchi last year, the LTTE fired chemicals at both 58 and 57 Division troops.

Army headquarters said that the 11 SLLI (Sri Lanka Light Infantry) and 6GW (Gemunu Watch) had captured the arms after heavy confrontations south of Piramanthalkulam and east of Puliyampokkanal in the Vishvamadu area Saturday morning. The two battalions are with the 583 Brigade operating under the 58 Division, commanded by Brigadier Shavindra Silva. The 11 SLLI, conducting operations south of Piramanthalkulam had recovered nine bodies of LTTE cadres along with nine US-built Tippman A-5 weapons, two T-56 assault riffles, one US manufactured M-16 Light Machine Gun (LMG). Troops also found a fully air-conditioned underground bunker at the camp premises.

The 6GW had overrun a base used by an elite LTTE unit situated on the eastern bank of the Piramanthal-aru, about seven kilometres north of the Paranthan-Mullaitivu (A-35) road. The army said that three 120 mm mortars, two 81 mm guns, one 82 mm mortar, 18 T 56 assault rifles, six multi purpose machine guns, one sniper rifle, two thermo-baric weapons, eight disposal rocket propelled grenades, 59 hand grenades, 20 pistols, three rocket propelled launchers, 13 RPG bombs, eight claymore mines, 35 locally made Arul bombs, 100 detonators, one radio set, 3,000 rounds of pistol ammunition, 35 gas masks, 48 helmets and a large stock of tools.

The 9 GW conducting operations west of Chalai lagoon had recovered 55 T 56 assault rifles following confrontations, also on Saturday.

Tamilnet claim denied

The army yesterday dismissed a Tamilnet report that claimed that there had been a successful LTTE attack on three main battle tanks on the Puthukkudiyiruppu front.

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