Sri Lanka: Heavy Artillery and Accusation Fire Continues

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November8, 2006: The LTTE claims 45 civilians were killed by government artillery in eastern Sri Lanka. The government says the LTTE were using civilians as human shields, to protect military targets. Nearly 1,100 civilians have been killed during the last eight months of fighting.

November 7, 2006: The navy blockade has been stopping more and more of the LTTE ammunition shipments, putting the LTTE artillery at a disadvantage. The government has taken advantage of this to increase its air and artillery attacks against LTTE military targets. In response, the LTTE has moved more of its artillery and infantry units into residential areas, to use the civilians as shields from government artillery or air attack. The army has also begun to move against LTTE positions in eastern Sri Lanka.

The government has offered to allow a national vote on whether or not the Tamil majority northern and eastern provinces could be united into an autonomous Tamil area. The LTTE still wants complete independence, but that seems less and less likely.

November 6, 2006: The government has prepared a detour of the main highway going to the north (the Jaffna peninsula), and is trying to work out a deal where the new route could be used to move food supplies to the hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians cut off up there. But the army will not allow the trucks to roll if the LTTE sets up checkpoints (where payments, or "revolutionary taxes" are collected from the truck drivers). The LTTE does not want to give up this source of income, and believes that if the food shortages get bad enough, international pressure will force the government to relent. In the meantime, the government is trying to move sufficient food supplies north by ship. But once landed, there are problems with getting the food to areas controlled by the LTTE.

The LTTE "freed" 22 child soldiers who, it said, had lied about their ages before joining up. The LTTE has been accused of kidnapping or coercing teenagers to join their combat forces. So this publicity operations is intended to counteract some of that bad press. The LTTE has been having more trouble getting adults to join up, so it turns to the kids.

November 5, 2006: In the north, skirmishing left left several sailors dead. Aside from combat patrols running into each other, or ambushing vehicles, the action consists largely of artillery fire.

 

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