Sri Lanka: Suicidal Stormtroopers Surrounded


April 8, 2009: Up north, five infantry divisions (and four smaller task forces) have killed, captured or driven away all LTTE gunmen, forcing them into the 20 square kilometer  No Fire zone. In the last week, over 500 LTTE fighters have been killed as they sought to stop the army advance. Several hundred LTTE fighters have surrendered. Five senior LTTE leaders (including the head of artillery and intelligence) were killed, and LTTE supreme leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran is believed to have fled to the No Fire zone. The army monitors the LTTE radio frequencies, and even though the rebels use code words, other forms of radio message analysis reveal much about the LTTE situation. Morale among the LTTE leadership is low, but there are at least a few hundred veteran LTTE fighters in the No Fire zone, plus a few hundred new recruits with weapons. The 50,000 Tamil civilians in the zone are still trying to flee, but that's become a lot more dangerous, as the army is surrounding the zone, and there are LTTE gunmen everywhere to prevent the soldiers from just walking in. It appears that the 50,000 soldiers moving to the borders of the No Fire zone, are scouting out what opposition they face, and stand ready to advance. If the army troops suddenly advance together, according to a pre-planned operation to rescue the Tamil civilians, the LTTE fighters would be overwhelmed. But the army would take more casualties as well, including the risk of friendly fire losses. Given the frequent use of suicide and terrorism as a tactic, trying to wait out the LTTE fighters in the No Fire zone, might not be a good idea either. For the next few days, the advancing army units will get organized for a possible final push, or a longer siege.

Now that the surviving LTTE fighters are confined to what is, for all practical purposes, a refugee camp, the army has been sweeping northern Sri Lanka, and finding all manner of weapons and equipment the LTTE has smuggled in over the last decade or so. The LTTE was very well equipped, as a result of the large amounts of cash raised from Tamils in southern India, and especially, in the West.

The LTTE leadership outside Sri Lanka, which normally deals with fund raising, propaganda and diplomacy, have tried to mobilize popular support among expatriate Tamils. This has not worked, as most Tamils have been put off by the strong-arm methods long used by the LTTE fund raisers. The defeat of the LTTE fighters in Sri Lanka has also been a low to morale. LTTE attempts to stage demonstrations, rarely mobilized more than a few hundred hard core participants, and not much positive response from the local governments.

April 5, 2009: The government provided a ship to take a 40 day supply of food to the 50,000 (or 100,000, as NGOs claim) Tamil civilians trapped (by armed LTTE fighters) in a neutral (No Fire) zone.

April 2, 2009: Troops from two infantry divisions captured the last LTTE bastion, Pachchapulmudai junction, which the rebels had dug in around and apparently hoped to hold out for several weeks. But the LTTE fighters were unable to handle the more experienced soldiers, and the junction fell under a few days pressure. The senior LTTE leaders that were there fled towards the No Fire Zone, where there are not supposed to be any weapons, just Tamil civilians.


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