Sri Lanka remains the bloodiest conflict in the region, killing more
people each week than the fighting in Pakistan or Afghanistan. So far this
year, over 2,500 have died, over 90 percent of them LTTE Tamil rebels. That's
more than the rest of the region combined, and is largely because Sri Lanka is
in the tropics and it's the dry season. But the rains are beginning down there,
so the killing will slow down a bit.
force has been bombing shipyards and air strips in the north. The new boats are
used for smuggling weapons, and the air strips allow the LTTE to use their half
dozen or so small aircraft to fly in essential supplies, or people. LTTE
fighters are short on ammo, but not determination. Most of the rebel fighters
still hold out until killed. While the number of LTTE gunmen who surrender keep
increasing, the majority still have plenty of fight.
has been concentrating on the northwest Mannar distract, trying to clear the
LTTE out of the area, leaving the rebels restricted to the northern tip of the
island. The casualties have been high, about 500 a week. The fighting is
constant, but low level. Lots of small arms fire, some mortar and artillery
fire, and the occasional appearance of a helicopter gunship or jet
fighter-bomber. The key weapon, however, has been mortars (60mm, 81mm and
120mm). This has led to an ammo shortage, and the government has found Pakistan
willing to rush mortar shells to the island.
is shifting more of their operations to the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu,
where over 100,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees live, in over a hundred refugee
camps. The LTTE recruits agents from the refugees, and people to help run arms
smuggling operations. The Indian police are paying more attention to what goes
on among these refugees.