Sri Lanka: Piece Work

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August 24, 2007: Attacks on aid workers are a growing problem. In the north, the LTTE will terrorize or kill aid workers if they believe the relief work is helping the government cause. In the east, where the government recently regained control, a few hundred LTTE guerilla fighters, and a few bandit gangs, are attacking aid workers, mostly to steal valuables. Meanwhile, the fighting is becoming more intense in the north, as the army shifts more troops up there. Although the LTTE only has about 6,000 armed fighters, these have a big advantage because they live among civilians, and cannot be easily found and attacked when they are off duty. The army, in contrast, must devote a lot of its manpower to protecting its bases from guerilla attack. But the armed forces have over 200,000 troops, and about half of them will soon be in the north. Already, the growing number of army patrols are forcing the LTTE to stand and fight (and usually lose) or abandon control of territory (and villages where their fighters could live). The LTTE controls territory inhabited by about half a million Tamil civilians, and the army will have to take this back a village (with a few hundred people in it) at a time.

August 23, 2007: Air force bombers have been diverted from their attacks on LTTE naval bases, to search for LTTE artillery that has become more active in the north. The LTTE don't have much artillery ammunition in the north, largely because of the navy effort to stop the smuggling boats from India. Ten shells were fired at a major base in the north. But the LTTE apparently did not have an observer near the base to adjust the fire, and the shells hit nothing of value.

August 22, 2007: The law and order situation in the east has been made worse by the appearance of Moslem death squads, seeking revenge against Tamils because of previous LTTE violence against Moslem Sri Lankans (who were forced out of what the LTTE considered Tamil areas.)

August 21, 2007: Troops discovered a second hidden LTTE hospital in the east. Part of it had been burned, and medical treatment had been given there until quite recently. Lots of medical supplies were still there, and many appeared to be foreign aid stolen by the rebels. Indian police arrested several Indian fishermen, who admitted they sold fuel to LTTE "Sea Tigers" and weapons smugglers.

August 20, 2007: The air force announced that its new air defense system, featuring radars purchased from India, was 80 percent complete. The new radars can spot low flying LTTE single engine aircraft, which have been used for two ineffective, but embarrassing, night bombing raids. The LTTE have long used such light aircraft to move leaders in and out of the country, and to smuggle in vital spare parts and medicine.

 

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