Sri Lanka: Casualties Pile Up


August 24, 2006: The armed forces have suffered 644 casualties (25 percent fatal) in two weeks of fighting. The LTTE is believed to have suffered nearly 500 dead, and an undetermined number of wounded. In three decades of violence, a total of 60,000 have died.
The current fighting is largely composed of shelling. The LTTE has howitzers (122mm, Cold War surplus smuggled in) and mortars of various calibers. The army has more of the same. The main focus of the fighting is the Jaffna peninsula in the north. This bit or real estate has been much fought over in the past. The government has over 20,000 troops in the area, and in the past, the LTTE was able to take the place with a smaller force of fearless light infantry. But this time around, the morale and training of the government forces is higher, and the quality of the LTTE troops appears to be lower. Then again, the LTTE has to move its fighters slowly and carefully to avoid being spotted from the air, and attacked. The LTTE could be maneuvering its light infantry into position for another of its massive surprise attacks, which have succeeded in the past.
August 21, 2006: In the United States, six Sri Lankan expatriates, including three from Canada, were arrested for attempting to buy anti-aircraft missiles, and bribe the U.S. government to take the LTTE off the terrorist list, and stop shipping weapons to Sri Lanka. The six Tamils were caught in a year long sting operation, after American law enforcement agencies detected LTTE agents asking around for illegal arms sources.
August 20, 2006: Over 800 rebels and soldiers have been killed in the last nine days. The fighting has died down somewhat, but the death toll continues at about 40 a day, mostly from bombing and artillery. Most (over 70 percent) of the losses have been Tamils. The LTTE has been using many of their teenage conscripts, and these units have taken heavy losses.
August 19, 2006: Air force warplanes bombed a LTTE ship yard that built and repaired boats used for smuggling and attacking navy gunboats.
August 18, 2006: The Jaffna peninsula has been cut off by the fighting for a week, along with several hundred thousand civilians. The Red Cross has arranged for a ship to deliver a food to Jaffna via a ship.


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