In the east, the government has reduced LTTE control to a 22
kilometers stretch of coastline, and is closing in on the port of
Trincomalee. Some 30,000 civilians (mostly Tamils) have fled the fighting,
which consists largely of mortar and artillery attacks, plus air raids by the
air force, and lots of skirmishing by infantry. The LTTE, because of poor troop
morale, and superior government firepower, have fallen back, rather than make a
stand. In addition, the LTTE has to worry about a dissident faction within its
ranks (the "Karuna Group") in the east, which complicates operations
and hurts morale. It appears that the LTTE will lose control of the east,
although there may be some tough fighting as the hard core LTTE fighters make a
last stand. However, most of the senior leaders in the east have already gone
off to join the larger LTTE forces in northern Sri Lanka. Thus deprived of
leadership, the hard core LTTE fighters may just hide their weapons and blend
in with the civilian population. So far this year, there have been at least
10,000 casualties, including about 3,500 dead. Fighting intensified later in
the year, and daily casualties now range from a few dozen to several
27, 2006: Sri Lanka has purchased a lot of its bombs and artillery shells from
Pakistan. But the quality control of that stuff is low, and about a third of
the shells and bombs fail to explode because of defective fuzes. This is not
surprising, as the Pakistanis built their munitions industry with Chinese help.
The Chinese, in turn, learned their weapons manufacturing from the Soviets, who
traditionally produced stuff with a 30-40 percent failure rate.
26, 2006: In the north, there is constant skirmishing along the front lines,
and some guerilla attacks by individual LTTE fighters, or small groups of them.
There is some artillery fire, and occasional air raids.
25, 2006: Germany has suspended its aid to Tsunami victims in Sri Lanka because
of the fighting in the area where the Tsunami hit two years ago, and killed
30,000 people. Germany has been providing about $200 million a year to the aid
effort. But government and LTTE officials have been stealing much of the aid,
and the renewed fighting was the last straw. There had been a ceasefire since
2002, but peace negotiations broke down over the issue of establishing a
separate Tamil state for the 2.5 million Tamils.
23, 2006: About fifteen kilometers off the northern coast, the crew of a
Jordanian ship was rescued, by the LTTE, at gunpoint. The ship was having
engine trouble, and radioed that it was under attack by pirates. The ship had
dropped anchor in order to make repairs. A boatload of LTTE gunmen came aboard,
forced the crew to up anchor, forced the crew off, then looted the ship (taking
anything light enough to carry, like electronics). After two days of protests
by the Jordanian government, the LTTE released the crew. The ship,
meanwhile, drifted toward the shore and ran aground. The ship was
carrying 14,000 tons of rice from India to South Africa. The LTTE insisted
they had done a good deed, and refused to return all the looted equipment.
22, 2006: The LTTE is suffering a cash shortage because of its increasingly
negative image in the foreign media, and with the governments of nations with
large Tamil migrant populations. This has hurt fund raising and, oddly enough,
the recruiting of troops. That's because the practice of forcing high school
students to job the LTTE combat forces, is now under constant scrutiny by the
foreign media. To avoid more bad press, the LTTE has had to either refrain from
"recruiting", or release kids it already has. This, in turn, brings
kids out of the jungle with stories of threats, getting military haircuts and
beginning combat training. Parents of kidnapped children are finding
foreign journalists to tell their story to, and the LTTE can't afford to
manhandle the foreign journalists too much either.