Sri Lanka: Death By Inches

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October 12, 2007: Despite recent military victories over Tamil rebels, the defense budget is being increased 20 percent next year, to about $1.5 billion. While the LTTE government along the east coast has been destroyed destroyed, there are still groups of former LTTE operatives who continue to live by extorting payments from Tamils and professing loyalty to the government. These former LTTE rebelled against the mainline LTTE over a number of issues, but seem determined to remain in control of the east coast Tamil areas. As a result, the government has had to put more police and paramilitary troops in east coast areas, just to maintain law and order.

The fighting continues to cause 30-40 casualties a day. The losses are largely from patrols clashing, or LTTE attacking troops advancing into areas previously considered under LTTE control. The army continues to uncover LTTE weapons and equipment caches. Tamil civilians are increasingly providing information on where this stuff is hidden.

The navy intercepted two small LTTE smuggling boats off the north coast. On one boat was a large (seven foot wingspan) remote control aircraft, apparently to be rigged with a remote camera and used for gathering information on government forces. Islamic terrorists have been found using similar methods in Pakistan. Over a dozen radio and GPS units were also found on the boat.

October 10, 2007: Radio intercepts confirmed that air strikes and artillery fire killed 69 LTTE operatives who were rehearsing a ceremony at Pooneryn (in the northeast) on September 25th.

October 7, 2007: The navy destroyed what it believed was the last large LTTE arms smuggling ship. The 3,000 ton, 220 foot long vessel was intercepted and sunk 1,700 kilometers off the southeast coast. When navy gunboats challenged the ship at about 5:30 in the morning, the crew of about a dozen men opened fire. After about four hours of shooting, the LTTE vessel sank. The ship was found to be carrying artillery ammunition, radar, GPS, radios and other electronic gear as well as scuba sets and jet skis. This ship is believed to be the last large smuggling ship the LTTE possessed.

October 6, 2007: There were over 300 casualties last week, including at least 70 LTTE dead in the north and the east. About a third of the casualties were government forces. The disproportionate losses were the result of the army have more artillery and mortar ammunition, and the air force carrying out more accurate attacks.

September 30, 2007: A few thousand of the 100,000+ Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in southern India (Tamil Nadu) have begun returning, mainly to eastern Sri Lanka.

 

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