Sri Lanka: The War In The Air

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September 9,2008:  So far this year, nearly 6,500 LTTE fighters have been killed, about ten times more deaths than the army has suffered. The government forces are coming up the northwestern coast of the island, the last bit of territory the LTTE controls.

After 18 months and seven attacks, the small LTTE air force of single engine commercial aircraft, has lost one of its planes to an air force fighter. Two LTTE aircraft had made a bombing attack on a government controlled town in the north, but to no effect. The air force radar system spotted the LTTE aircraft, and was able to vector a jet for an interception.

September 8, 2008: The LTTE continues to interfere with the efforts of Tamils to flee LTTE territory. Partly, this is to keep potential military manpower handy, partly it's for propaganda purposes. Civilians controlled are a sign of political power, and they can also be used as human shields, to provide some protection from artillery or air attack. If civilians are hurt by artillery or bombs, you can accuse the government of atrocities. The LTTE was also using NGOs (foreign non-governmental organizations) for political purposes. So the government has ordered foreign NGOs out of LTTE territory, at least until this final battle is over.

The LTTE are now staging counterattacks, but none strong enough to stop the army advance.  

September 7, 2008: While 7,500 army deserters took advantage of a recent amnesty, several thousand did not. So the police have begun looking for them, and 305 have been arrested.

September 3, 2008: The army captured Mallavi, a northern town long used as a LTTE base. The town contained an LTTE hospital for wounded fighters, and sits astride a key supply road for its forces in the north.

September 1, 2008: The army is within 12 kilometers of Kilinochchi, the town the LTTE uses as a headquarters. The LTTE are expected to put up a strong resistance defending Kilinochchi.

August 31, 2008: The LTTE openly complained of army commandos sneaking through LTTE territory and sometimes ambushing people on the roads and trails. The LTTE vows retaliation in government territory, and this is thought to mean more terrorist attacks.

August 30, 2008: In Colombo, a bomb went off in a market area and wounded fifty people.

 

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