Sri Lanka: Closing In On Kilinochchi

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September18, 2008:  Troops are now within five kilometers of Kilinochchi, the LTTE "capital." The air force is now bombing more key LTTE targets, now more easily identified because of increased army patrols and a smaller LTTE controlled territory. This is creating more refugees, with over 250,000 Tamils forced from their homes by the fighting. Many of these people are able to return home once the fighting has moved on, which is happening more often as the pace of the advance increases (with troops advancing several kilometers on some days.) Still, the military does not expect to finally destroy the LTTE in the north until the end of the year. The army is trying to keep casualties down, and that means advancing carefully and methodically. The LTTE still has hundreds of highly trained and motivated operatives who can be used in surprise attacks.

September 17, 2008: The Indian navy has increased patrols in the Palk Straits, the narrowest (64 kilometers) waters separating India from Sri Lanka. The LTTE have been trying to move their wounded across to India for medical treatment. In northern Sri Lanka, many LTTE medical facilities have been captured or damaged in the fighting.

September 16, 2008: A bomb went off in a bus in the capital, wounding four people. Most passengers had fled the bus, after the suspicious parcel was spotted. The LTTE was suspected. Thousands of Tamil refugees have been coming to the capital each month, and the government believes the LTTE has been using this movement to infiltrate terrorists into the capital.

September 11, 2008: The government has ordered the UN and other aid organizations out of the LTTE controlled areas of the north, because it is too dangerous. These aid groups employ 1,500 people in LTTE territory and control large fuel, food and other supplies. The government accuses the aid groups of helping prop up the LTTE, and even allowing the LTTE to use aid workers for supporting rebel operations. The government found similar patterns of behavior in eastern Sri Lanka, after the LTTE had been defeated there in early 2007.

September 9, 2008: An LTTE commando and air attack on a forward air base failed when army commandos spotted the LTTE team sneaking in and destroyed the LTTE force. One of the two attacking LTTE single engine aircraft was shot down and the other turned back by anti-aircraft fire. LTTE artillery fired on the airfield, using up what few shells they have left.

 

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