Sri Lanka: Secret Commandos Waiting To Strike


October 6,2008:  The army is now four kilometers from Kilinochchi, the LTTE "capital." The army is also fighting its way up the coast, and the end of LTTE control over Sri Lankan territory appears imminent. The LTTE has attempted to stop this advance with a terror bombing campaign. There have been six such attacks in the capital in the past five weeks. But the bombs have been small and poorly constructed, and merely made Sri Lankans more determined to finish off the LTTE once and for all. But the army is in no hurry. They know that haste merely provides the LTTE with more opportunities to launch surprise commando attacks. The LTTE still has several hundred experienced, well trained and armed fighters that could launch devastating attacks if the army got sloppy.

Casualties so far this year are about 7,000 LTTE dead and 700 soldiers killed. There are several hundred casualties a week, as the army continues to make persistent small attacks all along the front, using air power and artillery to take a few LTTE bunkers here, a few there, and slowly push the line back. The LTTE has not yet come up with a way to handle these tactics. Army troops are much better trained, equipped and led than they were in the 1990s, when a series of LTTE victories gave the rebels control of much of northern Sri Lanka. The army support forces have greatly improved as well. Engineers spend a lot of time clearing LTTE landmines and booby traps, thus neutralizing a weapon the LTTE thought would stop the army cold.

Sri Lankan diplomats are working to make sure no country will give LTTE leaders sanctuary. Europe and Canada has accepted many refugees from the Sri Lankan fighting, and subsequently became foreign outposts for the LTTE.  Sri Lankan officials are trying to convince these "sanctuary states" to be most careful who they accept after the LTTE  are defeated in Sri Lanka. The government expects the terrorists to carry on with suicide bombings and other attacks, to keep the "war" going. This will only work if the terrorists have foreign sanctuaries to operate from. The government is particularly keen to see that the LTTE leadership does not find a foreign sanctuary after they are forced out of Sri Lanka.

As troops advance deeper into territory long held by the LTTE, they discover more evidence of NGOs providing direct aid for rebel military operations. For example, earth moving equipment brought in by an NGO for "humanitarian purposes" appears to have been heavily used for building new fortifications (to replace those lost as the army advances.) NGO owned equipment is also found in LTTE headquarters and facilities, along with documents discussing these cozy relationships. This relationship was long suspected, but the NGOs and the LTTE strenuously denied it. Such a relationship is common in situations like this, as the NGOs are often pressured to cooperate, or else. But some of the NGOs are blatantly pro-rebel, and merely use their NGO status to protect them from government sanctions.

The LTTE carried out a major suicide bombing 200 kilometers north of the capital, where a political meeting was hit, killing a major opposition politician (a retired major-general) and 22 others, while wounding 80. The site of the bombing, Anuradhapura, is considered the center of the ancient Sinhalese (the majority on the island) civilization, and thus a symbolic target for the LTTE to go after.

October 5, 2008: The navy has begun using sea-going commandos and speedboats to hunt down LTTE smugglers at night, close to shore. These SBS (Special Boat Squadron) operations have been destroying more of the smaller smuggling boats.

October 1, 2008: Police checking trucks carrying food aid to civilians in LTTE controlled areas found secret compartments in several trucks, along with explosives and bomb making supplies. Meanwhile troops captured an LTTE airstrip (500 meters long and 50 wide), with signs that small aircraft had recently landed and taken off. This is how the LTTE smuggles people, and small quantities of supplies in from India at night.

September 29, 2008: In the capital, a bomb went off in a delivery van, wounding five people. The LTTE was suspected, as the rebels have vowed to unleash terror attacks on government targets. But military defeats and police activity have made it difficult for the LTTE to organize and carry out the promised terror attacks.

September 28, 2008: In the north, a suicide bomber on a bicycle attacked soldiers just behind the front lines. The bomber killed himself, and wounded nine soldiers and civilians.



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