Sri Lanka: Suicide Commandos Strike Back


October 26, 2007: The Anuradhapura air base was home to many recon aircraft, including Israeli made UAVs. Many of these aircraft were damaged by the recent LTTE attack, and will be out of action for days, or weeks. But the government has plenty of recent intelligence to act on, and for the last few days, air attacks have increased. But over the next few weeks, air and naval operations won't be as successful, because of the lost reconnaissance capability. Meanwhile, the situation for the LTTE forces in the north has not changed. The army is still catching groups of LTTE fighters trying to sneak past army lines, to carry out ambushes and attack government bases. The Black Tiger raid four days ago was carried out by at least 21 LTTE fighters who had slipped past army troops. But army artillery and air force bombers kill and wound LTTE gunmen each day, a process that is wearing down LTTE morale.

October 24, 2007: The government punished several officers responsible for security at the Anuradhapura air base, and reorganized the security forces for key facilities, like air bases. The Anuradhapura raid was something the military and police knew was possible, and those in charge of air base security had not done all they could to prevent it. In particular, there were problems with coordinating the security work of police, army, air force and intelligence personnel. This is going to be changed. The Black Tiger commandoes have been around for 25 years, and, while the government has stymied many Black Tiger attacks of late, you can't underestimate the enemy suicide attackers.

October 22, 2007: In a bold move to break the navy blockade that was increasingly successful at keeping out enemy supplies, the LTTE attacked the Anuradhapura air base, 170 kilometers north of the capital, and destroyed a radar recon aircraft that was used to keep an eye on the sea, as well as for finding LTTE bases on land. The 21 LTTE "Black Tiger" commandos were killed during the operation, along with 14 government troops. Seven other aircraft (trainers and helicopters) were also destroyed, and ten other aircraft damaged. Two of the LTTEs five single engine "bombers" also took part in the pre-dawn raid, dropping small bombs. This raid reminded the government that the LTTE still has a core of very good fighters. While many of the less professional LTTE fighters are out of action or suffering low morale, there remains several thousand very dedicated fighters, including several hundred who train for suicidal attacks like the recent one on the air base.


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