Sri Lanka: The War Is Far From Over

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February 26, 2009: The government expects the fighting in the north to go on  another four or five weeks. The army is advancing carefully, to minimize their casualties, and those of the many Tamil civilians the LTTE are using for human shields. There are also LTTE booby traps and mines to worry about.

The government has a serious problem with the 36,000 Tamil civilians who have managed to escape from LTTE control in the north. The government knows, from experience in defeating LTTE control of eastern Sri Lanka two years ago, that many LTTE members will go underground and continue to carry out terrorist attacks on civilians and the government. It's estimated that at least one percent of the LTTE Tamil refugees in the north are LTTE members. The refugees have reported that the LTTE asked the civilians to stay behind and "die with us." The LTTE kept trying to persuade military age civilians, and especially teenagers, to take up arms and join the fight. So the government is keeping the refugees in guarded camps, and screening them before releasing them. Some of the civilians are cooperating, and identifying LTTE members.

Military intelligence efforts have found that the LTTE arms smugglers are still trying to obtain surface-to-air missiles. The retreating LTTE up north are also burying large quantities of weapons, including some as large as 122mm howitzers, for later retrieval. Apparently the LTTE plans to revert to guerrilla warfare and terrorism, until it can again control territory and take on the army in conventional combat. The LTTE leaders trapped up north appear ready to die fighting, or escape into the civilian population, to continue the fight. This is already happening the east, but appears to be controllable. What is less easy to handle is the infighting among Tamils. The LTTE achieved its predominance in the Tamil community by murdering and terrorizing Tamils who opposed them. More of the same can be expected once the LTTE losses its fiefdom in the north. Meanwhile, the LTTE enjoys a lot of support among expatriate Tamils, and Tamils in southern India. The war is far from over.

February 24, 2009:  In the north, troops captured the village of Puthukudiyiruppu, and reduced rebel held territory to 66 square kilometers. Another LTTE fortified camp was captured, as well as a large cache of weapons.

February 22, 2009:  The LTTE now control only 73 square kilometers of jungle long the northeast coast. There are still 70,000 civilians in that area, most of them held there by force, or fear of what LTTE gunmen will do if flight is attempted. Some 35,000 Tamil civilians have already fled LTTE control. The Sri Lankan Air Force believes that the LTTE air force is gone for good, after ten sorties against government targets. The LTTE air attacks were mostly for propaganda, they had no impact on the military campaign against the LTTE.

February 21, 2009:  In the east, a group of LTTE gunmen entered a village and killed 21 Sinhalese civilians, most of them women and children. Up north, the LTTE released pictures of the pilots of yesterdays air raid on the capital. The two pilots were on a suicide mission, and their targets were air force facilities, which they failed to reach. In addition to themselves, the suicide pilots killed two people on the ground, and wounded 58. Most of the casualties were civilians.

February 20, 2009: At night, two LTTE single engine aircraft attacked the capital. One was shot down, while the other was hit by anti-aircraft fire, but managed to crash into a government building, killing two people inside, and wounding many more. Both aircraft had only the pilot in them. Advancing army troops had found several LTTE airfields, but none of the small LTTE aircraft. It is believed that one more of these aircraft are out there, either hidden, or in the 87 square kilometers of territory the LTTE still controls in the north. In that area, troops captured the village of Ampalavanpokkani, as well as a well hidden three level bunker complex.

 

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