The police said that there was irrefutable evidence that many LTTE cadres, including hardcore operatives, continued to take refuge among civilians accommodated at welfare centres in the Vavuniya region.
The police top brass Friday (August 28) said that interrogation of suspects taken from welfare camps had led to a spate of recent detections in areas formerly under LTTE control.
At a Police Headquarters press briefing on Friday (August 28), IGP Jayantha Wickremaratne said that since the collapse of the LTTE last May, the police had made substantial recoveries on information provided by LTTE suspects.
One of the biggest detection had been made on August 21 when an LTTE suspect led the police to a buried arsenal comprising 114,000 rounds of pistol (.45) ammunition, 27,990 rounds of 5.56 ammunition and 5,368 rounds of 23 mm ammunition at Vallipuram, he said.
A smiling IGP said that the recovered stock of pistol ammunition would be adequate to meet police requirement for several months.
Detailing ongoing police operations in the areas previously held by the LTTE as well as in the South, the police chief asserted that had the LTTE been given an opportunity to use the amount of explosives and other armaments recovered by the police alone, about 100,000 people would have been massacred.
He said that the Central Range Intelligence Unit, too, had recovered six LTTE boats laden with 970 kgs of C4 plastic explosives buried in the eastern Vanni. The recovery made on August 1 on information elicited from an LTTE cadre masquerading as a civilian in a Vavuniya welfare camp was one of the biggest detections in the recent past, he said.
Although the IGP steered clear of political issues relating to nearly 300,000 persons held in detention, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told The Sunday Island that the government would not open up welfare camps without screening people.
"Had we released all, those terrorists masquerading as civilians would start exploding bombs," he said accusing the opposition and a section of the international community of playing politics with a purely security issue.
Wickremaratne said that national intelligence services had also recovered 2,500 kgs of C4 plastic explosives, 53,000 detonators, 30,000 primers, 19,306 rounds of ammunition for 14.5 mm anti-aircraft guns, 53,550 rounds of 12.7 and 12,810 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition on June 30.
In a separate detection on August 8 in the Puthukudirippu area, the police had found two buried container loads of candles to be used in the manufacture of anti-personnel mines and hand grenades, he said, adding the recovered items included a large stock of shoes and belts.
Items recovered since the end of war included communication equipment, locally made mortars, anti-personnel mines and a machine used in what he called the ``mortar manufacturing process.’’
He appreciated the work carried out by different arms of the department, particularly the Colombo Crime Division, Central Range Intelligence Unit, Terrorist Investigation Division and the CID. They had made a significant contribution in anti-terrorist operations.
Responding to queries, the police chief and police spokesman Senior DIG Nimal Mediweka urged the media not to paint a bad picture over a spate of recent incidents involving police officers. Of some 75,300 officers and men in the department, only a few had caused trouble.
Wickremaratne assured that disciplinary and legal action would be taken against any officer found guilty of misconduct.
The IGP said that the police had also located a boat used by Sea Tigers to carry out surveillance on the Galle harbour before mounting an attack a few years ago. The trawler worth about Rs. 3 million and a lorry also used to facilitate the same operation, too, had been seized, he said.
He estimated the total weight of explosives recovered since January 2007 at over 4,000 kgs with C4 plastic explosives topping the recoveries. According to him, 1,663 kgs of C4 explosives, 443 kgs of TNT, 942 kgs of claymore mines, 92 kgs of suicide belts and jackets and 815 kgs of anti-personnel and land mines.