Sri Lanka: Threat Turned Into a Nuisance

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March 24,2008: So far this year, over 2,300 LTTE fighters, and nearly 150 soldiers have died. The army attacks are capturing LTTE fortifications, and taking villages back from the rebels. The army is planning on recovering all LTTE territory in the north by the end of the year. To that end, more troops and special police are being moved from former LTTE territory in eastern Sri Lanka, to the north. The eastern areas still have some LTTE fighters wandering around, but they are more a nuisance than a threat.

The air force has managed to overcome the loss of its maritime patrol aircraft, and its radar, to an LTTE raid late last year. The growing number of captured LTTE fighters has provided location information on many LTTE installations in the north. The air force is confirming these locations and bombing them. This included a recent attack that destroyed an LTTE radar station on the north coast. For over a decade, the LTTE has been using portable radar stations along the coast, to coordinate the movement of its smuggling boats, and to keep an eye out of navy patrol boats.

March 23, 2008: An Israeli made Dvora class patrol boat was sunk by an LTTE naval mine off the north east coast. The LTTE denies using mines, and says their commandoes attacked and destroyed the boat. Two years ago, the LTTE said it was going to use magnetic mines (which lie on the bottom, in shallow water, and go off when the metal of a boat is detected overhead), but nothing ever came of it. It's also possible that LTTE scuba divers attached explosives to the side of the navy patrol boat. At least six of the 14 sailors on board survived, so it's likely the real reason will be uncovered. The navy has about fifty patrol boats, of which the 80 foot long Dvoras are the most effective. Another Dvora was lost to LTTE suicide bombers two years ago.

 

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