In the last week, the army moved
to chase LTTE gunmen out of a area in the northeast. This was to make it
possible to get food to about 7,000 civilians who were being starved out by an
LTTE blockade. The LTTE have thousands of gunmen blocking the main road to the
northeastern Jaffna peninsula, forcing the government to use ships to feed
several hundred thousand civilians. Moving along the northeastern coast, troops
seized the coastal town of Silawathurai, south of Jaffna,
and captured an LTTE naval base (including three boats and a large quantity of
mines.) About twenty people were killed in the several days this
took. Most of the dead were rebels. Further searching uncovered twenty
inflatable boats, with outboard engines, and more weapons (nearly a ton of ammo
The government was quick to point out that this was
not a "major offensive." Only a few thousand troops were involved,
and most of them didn't move very far. While the government is apparently going
to try and nibble the LTTE to death up north, the rebels are relying more on
increased terror operations. These are not going so well. LTTE terrorists in
the east and around the capital are being turned in, or simply detected, and
arrested. Bomb making materials are being captured, and it's feared that
eventually one of the LTTE attack plans will get carried out.
The LTTE is also trying to use
food shortages up north, where LTTE gunmen block many roads, to elicit
international sympathy. This hasn't worked very well, but the tactic of using
human shields has had some success. The LTTE are increasingly putting military
bases in the middle of residential areas. Thus government artillery or air
attacks will cause lots of civilian casualties, which the LTTE will publicize
as an example of government war crimes. Meanwhile, the government is making a
greater effort to gather accurate information on LTTE activities. This includes
more long range patrols (deep into LTTE controlled territory), more electronic
listening devices (for radio and cell phones) and more regular patrols by army
troops on the front line.
September 4, 2007: The LTTE
campaign to drive Moslems out of eastern Sri Lanka had a noxious side effect.
Islamic radical groups formed to fight back. These groups grew out of Wahhabi
missionary efforts (funded by Saudi Arabian religious charities). The Wahhabi
preach a very conservative form of Islam, and the need to fight non-Moslems.
The Islamic radicals formed a coalition with Moslem gangsters, so that when the
army pushed the LTTE out of the east, they found armed Moslem groups, that
don't want to disarm.