During the first nine months of
the year, the army lost 1,099 dead, and about 7,000 wounded. September was a
bad month, with 200 dead and 997 wounded. The government claims it has killed
7,500 LTTE fighters, but some of this is based on estimates after air attacks.
The actual number of dead LTTE fighters counted by Sri Lankan soldiers is about
half that. To put it in perspective, it would be equivalent to a nation the
size of the United States losing 20,000 war dead in one year, and nearly
100,000 wounded. Since this is a civil war, you more than triple those losses
to include the rebel casualties. The current Sri Lankan government is a
coalition with a thin majority. The government needs a quick end to the war to
stay in power. But too many army casualties will diminish the victory. Army
commanders are hoping for an LTTE surrender, but fear it may end with deadly
attacks by the LTTEs remaining veteran fighters and commandos. Worst case, the
army could lose a thousand or more dead before finishing this.
attempts, to get sympathetic politicians in the south Indian state of Tamil
Nadu to force India to intervene to stop the army offensive, have failed. While
the Tamil Nadu politicians could have brought down the current Indian
government by leaving the governing coalition, they didn't. Meanwhile, the
Indian government said the right things ("Sri Lanka must stop attacking
the LTTE"), but did nothing. The war continues.
2008: Three LTTE suicide boats attacked
two cargo ships delivering supplies to the Jaffna peninsula (at the northern
tip of the island, but cut off from the rest of the island by LTTE controlled territory to the south, forcing the government
to use ships to supply the half million people in Jaffna.) The two ships were
damaged. Two of the three suicide bombers involved were senior officers in the
"Black Tigers" suicide attack organization of the LTTE.
2008: In the last few days, the army has
suffered over a hundred casualties, including 33 killed. This is the result of
stiffer LTTE resistance in front of their capital of Kilinochchi. To make
matters worse, heavy rains have slowed army vehicles moving troops and supplies
to the front. Thus while some troops are less than two kilometers from Kilinochchi,
the bulk of the army forces are stuck 10-15 kilometers further back.
2008: LTTE fighters launched an attack
on an army position south of Kilinochchi, but were repulsed. The army has its
people on high alert, because if the LTTE is going to use its commandos or
veteran troops for surprise attacks, it's going to be right about now.
2008: Soldiers captured a bunker line (19
structures) south of the LTTE capital of Kilinochchi. This is believed to be
the last major defensives outside the town. The army accused the LTTE of using
tear gas against advancing army troops. Not exactly chemical warfare, but
unusual, and desperate.
2008: A UN aid convoy, carrying 750 tons
of food, had to turn back when it ran into a firefight between army and LTTE
forces. The convoy get through two days later. There are over a quarter million
Tamils still living under LTTE control, and they depend on foreign aid agencies
to survive. The LTTE needs to control a portion of the LTTE population in order
to recruit fighters and suicide bombers.