Sri Lanka: Rebels Suffer Morale Shortage


January 7, 2008: Having raised the defense budget 20 percent this year, to $1.5 billion, the government announced it would crush the LTTE this year. As if to reinforce that point, it was also announced that the head of LTTE intelligence and espionage was killed in an ambush.

The government is also formally ending the peace negotiations and truce, both brokered by Norway in 2002. The government always believed that it had the short end of the deal, and that the LTTE wasn't really serious about negotiating an end to the violence. This was confirmed for many Sri Lankans when a civil war broke out within the LTTE three years ago. The moderate wing, based largely in eastern Sri Lanka, was willing to accept an autonomy (for Tamils) deal. But the hard core LTTE, based largely in the north, insisted on partition of the island. By the time the ceasefire fell apart in 2005, the LTTE had over 3,000 ceasefire violations, compared to 144 for government forces. Then the LTTE was finally classified as an international terrorist organization by most Western nations, interrupting their fund raising. In the last week, the army has advanced into LTTE territory in the north, inflicting several hundred casualties and capturing LTTE bunkers and ammo supplies.

The LTTE is believed to have only a few thousand armed fighters left, and these are suffering from a shortage of ammunition and morale. But the LTTE still has a formidable commando force, willing to take on true suicide missions, and with an impressive track record. There may only be a few hundred "Black Tigers" available, but their ability to hit heavily guarded targets is apparently undiminished. Even if defeated, the LTTE could unleash its Black Tiger commandos for a final round of attacks.


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