Eastern Theater of Eelam War IV

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Eastern Theater of Eelam War IV
Part of the Eelam War IV
Date July 21, 2006 – July 11, 2007
Location Sri Lanka
Result Sri Lankan Military victory
Belligerents
Emblem of Sri Lanka.svg Military of Sri Lanka Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
Commanders and leaders
Major General Parakrama Pannipitiya Swarnam
Strength
20,000 (approx.) 3,000 (approx.)
Main article: Eelam War IV

The Eastern Theater of Eelam War IV, the warfare started in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka on July 21, 2006, when the LTTE cut off the water supply to the rice fields in the Mavil aru area in the eastern Trincomalee district. The government military claimed the total control of the Eastern province after capturing the Thoppigala (Baron's cap) on July 11, 2007 after nearly a year of fighting.[1]

The major battles took place at Sampoor, Vakarai, Kangikadaichchi Aru, Kokkadichloai and Thoppigala (Baron's cap). The military and civilian deaths are considerably low on both sides, and the government forces captured much military hardware from the LTTE during the conflict. The civilians managed to flee the combat zones, even though the LTTE tried to prevent this, and this reduced civilian casualties, while swelling the number of internally displaced people (IDP). The world health organization (WHO) estimated ~200,300 IDPs, and claims that significant progress has occurred in resettling them[2]

The LTTE has vowed to attack Sri Lanka's military and economic targets across the country to retaliate the capture of the Eastern province from them. This was stated by the LTTE political-wing leader S.P. Thamilchelvan, in a statement to Associated Press on July 12, 2007 at Killinochchi in northern Sri Lanka.

Beginning of the war[edit]

A new crisis leading to the first large-scale fighting since signing of the ceasefire occurred when the LTTE closed the sluice gates of the Mavil Aru (Mavil Oya) reservoir on July 21 and cut the water supply to 15,000 villages in government controlled areas.[3] After the initial negotiations by the SLMM to open the gates failed, the Air Force attacked LTTE positions on July 26, and ground troops began an operation to open the gates.[4] government spokesman, stated that the government remained committed to the cease-fire.[5] Likewise, the LTTE also claimed that they were committed to the ceasefire[6]

The sluice gates were eventually reopened on August 8, with conflicting reports as to who actually opened them. Initially, the SLMM claimed that they managed to persuade the LTTE to lift the waterway blockade conditionally.[7] However a government spokesman said that "utilities can not be used as bargaining tools" by the rebels[3] and the government forces launched fresh attacks on LTTE positions around the reservoir. These attacks prompted condemnation from SLMM Chief of Staff, who stated "(The government does) have the information that the LTTE has made this offer,"... "It is quite obvious they are not interested in water. They are interested in something else."[3] As the battle warmed up, the LTTE claimed that they opened the sluice gates "on humanitarian grounds" although this was disputed by military correspondents, who stated that the water began flowing immediately after the security forces carried out a precise bombing of the Mavil Oya anicut.[8] Eventually, following heavy fighting with the rebels, government troops gained full control of the Mavil Oya reservoir on August 15.[9]

Battle of Muttur and Sampur[edit]

Main article: Battle of Sampur

The Sri Lankan military gained control the Sampur town of eastern Trincomalee district on September 4, 2006, where the area used by LTTE as an artillery launching pad to attack Trincomalee port.[10] The SLA military offensive began on August 2006 and the area was under LTTE control for years.[11] President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced capturing of Sampur as he addressed the 55th annual conference of the ruling SLFP.[12]

The battle of Sampoor, close to Muttur, lasted nearly a month. The SLA gained control of the area on September 4, 2006 after heavy fighting.[13][14]

Battle of Vakarai[edit]

The Sri Lankan military announced that the capture of Vakarai, a coastal town of eastern Batticaloa district on January 19, 2007, the military has accused the LTTE of using civilians in the Vakarai hospital as a human shield and also using the hospital premises as an artillery launching pad.[15][16][17]

The SLA's battle to take Vakarai (Vaakare) lasted nearly 3 months from October 30, 2006 to January 15, 2007. Vakarai (Vaakare) is a coastal city in the Batticaloa (Madakalapuva) district where the LTTE had clamped their own civil administration and police for some time.[18]

As per Sri Lankan military sources, the military operation launched to gain the area of Vakarai from LTTE was conducted in two phases. The first phase was to facilitate the movement of civilians into the area under the Sri Lankan army (SLA). The Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) of the SLA infiltrated the area under the LTTE, and launched surprise attacks on them. This tactic caused the LTTE to engage with the SLA instead of holding the civilians (hostages) from fleeing into the SLA control zone.[19]

The phase-II started on December 4, 2006 where the SLA troops advanced in three fronts from Trikonamadu(Thrikonamaduva), Kirimichchiya (Kirimaetiyaava), Kadjuwatte and cleared off 15 km into the Trikonamadu jungle. During this action, the LTTE targets at Kaddamuravikulam, Karuvappanchenai and Madurankernikulam were destroyed. The second advance of SLA started on December 9, 2006 from Mahindapura Southwards and captured LTTE camps around Echchalanpaththuwa area. The 3rd and 4th advances of SLA started on December 10, 2006 from Trikonamadu and Kadjuwatta onwards.[20]

Battle of Ampara-Kanjikudichchi Aru[edit]

The military operation to consolidate the GOSL's control of Amparai code named as "Operation Definite Victory" took place in the Ampara district, in the Lahugala jungles. The Special Task Force also known as the STF was involved in the operation that captured the Kangikadaichchi Aru LTTE military complex during the first week of January 2007[21]

STF troops captured around 20 LTTE camps including major bases such as Janak, Stanley and the Jeevan base. These complexes provided infrastructure for LTTE military cadres in the area.[22]

After capturing large infrastructure facility of the LTTE, the STF troops found a truck and a motorcycle packed with explosives. The military believed that these items were prepared for a suicide attack in Colombo. The STF also recovered large quantity of arms and ammunition, coffins, anti-personnel mines, radio receivers, global positioning systems, Power generators, boats with name and logo of the NGO "Save the Children", tents with the logo of "UNHCR", and a fully equipped hospital named by the Tigers as Thileepan Memorial Hospital donated by a Dutch INGO named ZOA Refugee Care.[23]

Battle of Thoppigala[edit]

The dominating peak in the area is called Thoppigala (British called it Baron's cap, tamils called it Kudumbimalai). . It is situated near the Batticaloa - Polonnaruwa border close to Maduru Oya the Sri Lankan military's largest infantry training base. The area is ~800 square kilometers, with rocky mountains (Dimbulagala - Lahugala range), dense jungles and also ancient irrigation tanks. The Sri Lankan military launched their military operation to capture the area from LTTE on April 25, 2007. The full scale jungle warfare started, and the LTTE was trying to protect their last stronghold in Eastern Sri Lanka. The SLA estimated around 500-700 LTTE cadres were fighting in the area in a network of trenches and tunnels.

Capture of LTTE bases[edit]

During the period of June 8–9, 2007 Sri Lankan army captured 4 LTTE military bases at Ibbanvila, Akkarathivu, Mawadi-ode, and Veppanveli in Pankudavaella North, and Naarakmulla, South of the Thoppigala area. During the confrontation, around 30 LTTE cadres and 1 SLA personnel died. The SLA captured 06 Multi Purpose Machine Guns (MPMG), 21 T-56 assault riffles, 04 Rocket Propeller Grenade (RPG) launchers, and a large quantity of Anti Personnel (AP) mines and Ammunitions[24]

On June 19, 2007 03 LTTE satellite camps East of Narakkamulla in the Thoppigala area were completely destroyed by the SLA. As per military sources around 25-30 LTTE were killed and a large quantity of anti-personnel mines (APM's) and other military equipment were captured.[24]

Final assault[edit]

Fierce fighting erupted between the LTTE and the SLA at the final forward defence line (FDL) of LTTE, at their Beirut complex in Narakamulla, Thoppigala area between June 22–24, 2007. The FDL was fortified with 6 bunker lines and 3 minor camps. The LTTE did not vacate their positions due to SLA's heavy barrage of artillery and tank gun fire. Finally, around 50 SLA commando's infiltrated the LTTE bunkers and killed 30 of them. Three LTTE cadres committed suicide. This series of events turned the tide of the battle of Thoppogala against the LTTE.[25]

The fierce battle North of Narakamulla, in the Thoppigala area on July 6, 2007 morning, killed 6 Sri Lankan army personal including an officer called Colonel Samantha Ranathunga, and injured 7, due to heavy mortar fire by the LTTE. The Sri Lankan military retaliated with artillery and aerial bombardment to control the situation.[26]

Capture of Thoppigala (Baron's Cap)[edit]

After 13 years, the Sri Lankan military captured the final stronghold of LTTE in the East, Thoppigala (Baron's Cap), on the morning of July 11, 2007, nearly after a year of military action. According to the country's military history, the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), with around 20,000 soldiers attacked this area in the year 1988 but failed to capture the area (at that time LTTE was led by Colonel Karuna). In 1994 the SLA withdrew their military bases from this area.[27]

Comments about the battle[edit]

The opposition leader of the Sri Lanka Parliament Ranil Wickremasinghe criticized the government for treating the capture of Thoppigala as a matter of national significance. He stated at a public gathering at Galle, the capital of southern Sri Lanka, that Thoppigala is a jungle area larger than the district of Colombo, with no other significance. However, in September 2007 the United National Party (UNP) led by Wickremasinghe announced a change of party policy, abandoning its federalist policy stand "in view of the LTTE defeat in the east.[28] This itself shows the far-reaching implications of the war in the Eastern theater.

Commemoration of the victory in east[edit]

Eastern peoples' victory monument at Karadiyanaru junction. This was erected after the Sri Lankan government military forces' victory over LTTE in the Eastern theatre.

The government of Sri Lanka commemorate the military defeat of the LTTE, in Eastern province of the country in the morning of July 19, 2007, called "New Dawn to the East ". It took place in the country's main city of Colombo around Independence Square where passes the military parade. There was several commemoration ceremonies organized throughout the country on same day. The government suggested hoisting the country’s flag in every house and also lighting an oil lamp at auspicious time for the people who sacrificed their lives for the nation.[29] The ceremony start with observing the silence for the fallen heroes of the military who sacrificed their lives for the country, then hoisting the country flag. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had officially accepted the total government control of the area, from the commanders of the army, navy and air-force.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa addresses the nation stated, "Let us bequeath to them a land where Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims can live together and smile as the children of one mother. It is not possible to bring liberation to the Tamil people through guns, bombs and cyanide capsules. What they destroy is the future of Tamil children".[30] The display of the military equipment and the parade inclusive of various the military units were some of the focal points of the ceremony. The display of air-force fighter planes as the final event of the ceremony. The ceremony has to be viewed in the context of the large political and military implications of the aftermath of the LTTE defeat in the east[31]


Murdering of prominent personnel[edit]

  • The assassination of the head Priest of the Santhiveli Pilleyar Kovil Rev Selliah Kurukkal Parameshwaran on February 7, 2007 in his home Batticaloa. The priest who blessed President Mahinda Rajapakse during his visit to Vakarai four days before his death. As per Police investigations the murderers identified themselves as LTTE and forcibly dragged him out of his house and shot him to death. The TULF leader Anandasangraee himself attributed the murder to the LTTE and strongly condemned the LTTE.[32]
  • Assassination of Chief Secretary of the Eastern Province Mr.Herath Abeyweera on July 16, 2007 around 18:00 hrs at his office located at Inner Harbour Road in city of Trincomalee. The Police blamed LTTE for this assassination. He worked as the District Secretary of Ampara for more than 15 years and served the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim people of the East with great commitment.[33]

Impact of war into civilian life[edit]

Because of the clashes between LTTE and the Sri Lankan army at Eastern province there were around 35,000 people of 10,000 families internally displaced from Sampoor (Muthur), Seruvilla, Verugal (Echchalampattu) and Vakarai areas. The period of heavy clashes happened from December 2006 to April 2007, many people left their homes and arrived in Sri Lankan government controlled areas.[2]

Political situation in East[edit]

After the Sri Lankan military gain control in the eastern province the political situation within the Tamil society there, dramatically changed. The many people living in the area now internally displaced (IDP) due to the on-going war. The LTTE breakaway faction led by former LTTE Colonel Karuna would be more influential among the Tamil people. The political party named the TamilEela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) opened several political offices in the area and hopes to contest in future elections.[34]

The TMVP contested Batticaloa district local council election on March 10, 2008 and won all 9 councils with a high majority 70% of votes.[35] The party also contested in Eastern Provincial Council election May 10, 2008 under the ruling UPFA banner and UPFA won the election.[36] TMVP's current leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan sworn as the Chief Minister of Eastern Provincial Council on May 16, 2008.[37]

TMVP ideology[edit]

Colonel Karuna addresses his cadres during his visit to TMVP eastern military bases in February 2007 and described his vision about the ongoing crisis of the area.

Anti rebel Asian Tribute claimed that Karuna stated that, "When we left the LTTE on 3 March 2004 we decided to enter into the main stream politics of Sri Lanka. When we left the LTTE, we also gave up the policy of Separate state or Tamil Eelam. We do not believe in such a utopian politics any more. We today believe in rule of law, democracy and pluralism. Sri Lanka is our Motherland. We want to live equally with the majority Sinhalese and minority Muslims. We consider that it is our duty respect the country’s constitution and also the President and the Government of Sri Lanka".[38]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ world-press report
  2. ^ a b situation report from UN relief groups, June 2007
  3. ^ a b c "Sri Lanka forces attack reservoir". BBC News. 2006-08-06. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Air Force jets hit LTTE targets". Sunil Jayasiri (The Daily Mirror). 2006-07-27. 
  5. ^ Sri Lanka Newspapers - Sri Lanka News Updates around the clock
  6. ^ "'Muslims flee' Sri Lanka fighting". BBC News. August 2, 2006. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  7. ^ slmm attempt
  8. ^ The Sunday Times Situation Report, Eelam war IV rages on several fronts
  9. ^ Iqbal Athas, Janes Defence Weekly, Full-scale fighting flares in Sri Lanka
  10. ^ "Sri Lankan troops take key town". BBC News. 2006-09-04. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Army 'consolidates' Sampur gains". BBC News. 2006-09-05. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  12. ^ "LTTE admits defeat in Sampoor". BBC News. 2006-09-04. 
  13. ^ "Sampur 'under our control'". BBC News. 2006-09-08. 
  14. ^ "Tigers kill 100 refugees, Sri Lanka says, amid new moves to halt bloodshed". AFP. Retrieved 2006-08-05. 
  15. ^ "Sri Lanka troops 'take key town'". BBC News. 2007-01-19. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  16. ^ "'Last civilian' leaves Vakarai". BBC News. 2007-01-19. 
  17. ^ "Government forces take Vakarai". BBC News. 2007-01-19. 
  18. ^ Gardner, Simon (January 19, 2007). "Sri Lanka captures rebel town as thousands flee". Reuters. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  19. ^ "Sri Lanka troops hunt rebels as refugees flood camps". Reuters. January 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  20. ^ "Sri Lanka's displaced face uncertainty". BBC News. January 22, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  21. ^ World-press report
  22. ^ Sundat Times report
  23. ^ World-news
  24. ^ a b Sunday Observer
  25. ^ "Sri Lanka says 33 Tigers die in battle". Reuters. June 9, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-09. 
  26. ^ "Six Sri Lankan troops are killed". BBC News. July 6, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  27. ^ "Sri Lanka declares fall of rebel east, Tigers defiant". Reuters. July 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  28. ^ BBC news report
  29. ^ BBC news report
  30. ^ Presidential speeches
  31. ^ Report in the hindunet
  32. ^ Lanka newspapers report
  33. ^ Gardner, Simon (July 17, 2007). "Sri Lanka President vows to wrest all land from rebels". Reuters. Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  34. ^ "A date with a renegade rebel Tiger - BBC Interview with Karuna Amman". BBC News. April 4, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  35. ^ "Ex-Tamil Tigers win local polls". BBC News. 2008-03-11. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  36. ^ "Sri Lankan government wins vote". BBC News. 2008-05-11. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  37. ^ "CM appointment illegal - Hisbullah". BBC News. 2008-05-16. 
  38. ^ "Sri Lanka is our Motherland. We respect the constitution, the President and the government". Asian Tribune. Retrieved 2007-03-04. 

External links[edit]