Attrition: The War in Sri Lanka


January 2, 2008: The war in Sri Lanka, one of the most unreported (in the global media), continues. The ethnic Tamil rebels, seeking a partition of the island nation, are on the defensive. After fifteen years of fighting, and a failed cease fire, the fightingresumed two years ago. This time, the government had the edge over the demoralized Tamils, and their rebel organization; the LTTE. This year, there were about 4,200 deaths (75 percent rebels, 8 percent civilians and 17 percent security forces). That wasn't much more than last year (4,000), but the pattern of losses was different, with last year's losses being 57 percent rebels, 24 percent civilians and 19 percent security forces.

The LTTE reported that some 20,000 LTTE members have died in the last 25 years. The LTTE was formed in the early 1970s, but didn't "go to war" with Sri Lanka until late 1982. Their dead include 343 suicide bombers (27 percent of them women). Over 50,000 others (Tamil and Sinhalese civilians, plus soldiers and police) have died as well.This year's defeats have disrupted LTTE terror operations. Thus there were only six suicide attacks in 2007, versus twelve last year. The LTTE is confined to northern portions of the island, and less than ten percent of the island's population.




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