Sri Lanka: The Last Stand

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January 16, 2009:  Troops have now captured five hidden LTTE landing strips, most of them equipped with hangers. But none of the remaining LTTE single engine aircraft have been seen. They may all be in southern India, which is less than a hundred kilometers from the island nation. Troops have captured another LTTE held town (Dharmapuram), 395 kilometers northeast of the national capital. The LTTE is now trapped in an area of about 600 square kilometers, with their backs to the sea (and plenty of navy and air force patrols.) Four years ago, the LTTE controlled over fifteen percent of Sri Lanka, and a year ago they had about six percent (4,000 square kilometers). LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is believed to have moved to southern India. That could get interesting, as Prabhakaran  is wanted in India for ordering the assassination (by suicide bomber) if former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The LTTE has a lot of supporters, including many politicians, in southern India.

The destruction of the LTTE fighting force does not end the war (which has killed about 75,000 people in 25 years), just the period of major combat. There are still a lot of angry, armed and anti-social Tamils in Sri Lanka. There is still the tension between the Tamil minority (about ten percent of the population) and the Sinhalese (81 percent) majority. There is also a large (eight percent) Moslem minority with some grievances. But nothing like the anger many Tamils and Sinhalese still feel towards each other. It's expected that there will be a lot of low level terrorism between Tamil and Sinhalese extremists for years to come.

January 14, 2009: Troops cleared LTTE fighters out of the last bit of territory in the Jaffna peninsula. This strip of land at the northern tip of the island has long been considered the LTTE heartland. Now it is completely under government control.

January 13, 2009:  Troops advancing on the last LTTE stronghold in the northeast captured a major LTTE camp as well as a hospital used by the rebels.

January 10, 2009: The government believes the LTTE is moving its remaining armed manpower (about 2,000 people, many of them veterans) to the town of Mullaittivu. There are at least 200,000 civilians in the northeast, where the LTTE is making its last stand. Army troops captured an LTTE airstrip, and two hangers. The LTTE are believed to have three or four single engine aircraft, and it is feared these may be used to try and get senior LTTE leaders off the island.

January 9, 2009: Troops have captured Elephant Pass, a key portion of A-9 highway that runs the entire length of the island, from north to south. The LTTE captured portions of this highway 23 years ago. The army lost control of the pass in 2000, after a humiliating defeat by the LTTE. Now the LTTE forces are falling apart, and have no place to go. To make matters worse, the government has banned the LTTE as a political party. Decades of efforts to negotiate a settlement with the LTTE have failed, and now the government is asking foreign governments to assist in shutting down LTTE fund raising and recruiting overseas.

In the northeast, a roadside bomb went off, killing four civilians and three air force men.

January 8, 2009: The editor of a prominent opposition daily newspaper was murdered. No one took credit for it, but many of those opposed to the government accused the government of an undeclared war on opposition politicians and journalists. No one has been able to produce any proof, other than the fact the government benefits most from these attacks.

 

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