Sri Lanka: Grinding It Out


April 15,2008: The fighting is getting more intense, and the LTTE keeps losing ground. At this rate, the army's prediction that the LTTE will be crushed this year, appears on schedule. But the LTTE have a track record of carrying out spectacular attacks with the elite forces. But these are only a thousand or so people, and more of them are encountered commanding front line LTTE fighters. More and more of these gunmen (and women) are teenagers, conscripted from among the half million Tamils still living in LTTE controlled territory.

The LTTE is trying to regain some psychological ground with a propaganda campaign portraying themselves as victims. This no longer works very well. With over 70,000 dead from two decades of LTTE violence, most Sri Lankans just want it all to stop.

April 14, 2008: LTTE fund raisers are making increasing demands on Sri Lankan Tamils who have moved to the West. The "collectors" are basically running an extortion scheme, and an increasing percentage of the money taken stays with the collectors. Tamil businessmen fear reporting this to the police, lest they be disowned by their own community. Despite that, police are finding out who the collectors are, and arresting them for extortion, coercion and whatever.

April 10, 2008: Police, searching for LTTE suicide bomber teams, arrested four men and seized bomb components (including explosives) near Kandy.

April 9, 2008: Last month, the army suffered 750 casualties (including 93 dead) fighting the LTTE in northern Sri Lanka. Close to 300 LTTE rebels were killed, and nearly a thousand wounded (these are difficult to count, as they are usually removed when the LTTE retreat.)

April 8, 2008: The increased military activity has caused economic growth to decline, to 6.8 percent last year, from 7.4 percent in 2006. Inflation is also up, to about 28 percent.

April 7, 2008: An LTTE suicide bomber killed the Highways Minister, and 14 others, as he was signaling the start of a marathon race near the capital.


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