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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 101

Conflicting reports emerges from Vanni – What is happening over there?

By K.T.Rajasingham

Vanni is shrouded with mystery. What is happening over there? We only get conflicting reports, but unable to authoritatively even confirm or deny those news reports appearing in the Sri Government news media.

Vanni is a jungle terrain consisting of Kilinochchi, Mullaithievu and a half of Mannar districts. This region is under the control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. According to Vanni sources LTTE Leader Prabhakaran is holed up somewhere in this region.

Unlike in the earlier military campaigns, Sri Lanka Defense Forces has an upper hand in the on going confrontation with Tamil Tigers.

In July, Tamil Tigers lost their control over the Eastern Province. Now the whole East is under the Sri Lankan Forces except in a few pockets LTTE cadres, mostly intelligence groups are involved in a hit and run policy. Sources said that there may be about 200 of them scattered in the East, especially in the South of Pottuvil, and Yala national parks.

According to sources, LTTE’s self styled Colonel Ram is controlling the hit and run resistance by operating from the jungle terrains of South of Pottuvil.

But in the North Government forces wrested a strategic location in Mannar. Silavathurai area up to Puttalam border was captured by Sri Lankan armed forces on 02 September.

Once this strategically important region was wrested from the LTTE, it became impossible for LTTE to fly their air planes and bomb Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Colombo metropolis. Their flights will not be able to fly from Vanni to Colombo. The distance from Vanni to Colombo is not manageable by their light aircrafts.

Also they find it difficult to air bomb Palaly Army complex as it would be more than 250 kilometers two ways for the fixed winged planes to fly from secret location in Vanni.

The maximum they managed was bombing the Anuradhapuura air base. However, according to military analysts, two Tiger flights were sent ‘as a pinch salt’ to assist the 21 suicide cadres who managed to intrude and attack the airbase causing heavy damages.

Subsequent to the attack on the Anuradhapuura airbase, Sri Lanka Defense force has managed to attack the LTTE bases in Vanni as well as in the border areas, and their Forward Defense Lines successfully, and they are said to be gaining momentum.

The aerial bombardments are a telling blow to the Tigers. In November, Sri Lanka’s Air force by aerial bombing killed S.P.Tamilselvan, the Political Head of the LTTE. This incident was said to be a major blow to the morals of the LTTE cadres and to the Tamil diasporas supporting them in the West.

Subsequently, they bombed and destroyed the LTTE’s Voice of Tigers Radio station on 27 November, on the day Prabhakaran was supposed to deliver his annual Heroes day speech from some hidden location in the Vanni.

In an interview, on Sunday, Sri Lanka Army Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka made a bold announcement that Prabhakaran could not survive for the next six months.

In a report appeared in Sunday Observer, it was pointed out by Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka that the Security Forces have occupied the LTTE's Forward Defense Lines and surrounded the Vanni LTTE bases from all directions. The Army Chief said that the LTTE could not prevent losing their remaining 3000 cadres and there is no assurance that the LTTE Leader V. Prabhakaran would survive for the next six months as the Sri Lankan Air Force plans to attack all the LTTE bases.

In an interview with the 'Sunday Observer' the Army Chief said that there are around 3000 LTTE cadres remaining and that the military targets to annihilate them within the first six months of the next year (2008). "Our daily target is to kill at least 10 LTTE fighters and for the last few months over 500 LTTE carders have been killed by the armed forces. We have weakened the LTTE by 50 percent or more and we are confident we can go that extra mile in the coming year", he said.

He said the correct directives and the support given by the President and the Ministry of Defense had helped the military to achieve the set targets. “All the citizens are waiting to see an end to terrorism. The President very clearly announced his firm opinion about wiping out terrorism and bringing political solutions to address the problems of the Tamil people", Gen. Fonseka said.

Furthermore in another interview with Defense Secretary, appeared also in the Sunday Observer, a former Army Colonel Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is the present Defense Secretary and the younger brother of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse was asked, “Amidst government's claims about serious injuries to the LTTE leader Prabhakaran, the LTTE denying this claim has said that it is a fabricated and baseless rumor. What is the reality? “

In response to the question, Defense Secretary, Army Colonel Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said, “From the beginning we believed that we have to destroy them and weaken them. We need to destroy their bases and assets. We have identified the mission at the beginning and started collecting information about the location and their movements. Several times we got very accurate and intelligent. Once we got information that Banu was coming to a particular meeting and we took that target. It was successful but unfortunately Banu was not there because he got late to come there. He got injured and several other LTTE leaders were attacked. S.P. Thamilselvan's attack is a best example for our accurate targets and intelligence.

“We are continuously gathering about the locations of Prabhakaran and other leaders.

“This particular day we got information about two locations and it was very reliable. Our pilots got both the targets and confirmed that their attacks were very successful. There are some indications that an important person was there. One such indication was the ground reaction which was very heavy attacks from the LTTE after the bombing. According to information the particular areas of Kilinochchi was sealed off for civilians for two weeks.

“The government knows that we took the correct target. But we cannot confirm whether the person was there and the seriousness of the injury. That is why we did not come out with the confirmation. Our aim is to take him and we are not interested in divulging it to the public till we get the correct confirmation. However, our intelligence sources believe that he has been seriously injured or killed. It is obvious that the LTTE will not divulge this for a long period. And the LTTE can also publish pictures but it does not give any indication that he is alive until he comes for a public meeting.

So far Tamil Tigers has not come up with any credible denial whether Prabhakaran is injured or not.”

-Asian Tribune-

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