Eelam War III is the name given to the third phase of armed conflict between Sri Lankan military and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. After the period of 100 days cease-fire the hostilities broke out on the 19th of April 1995. The LTTE - Sea Tigers planted explosives in two gun boats known as SLNS 'Sooraya' and 'Ranasuru', and blew them up. Also, a new weapon "Stinger", a shoulder launched anti-aircraft missile was used in this conflict by the LTTE. This was used to take down two Sri Lankan Air Force AVRO aircraft flying over the Jaffna peninsula. Eelam War III also marked the rise of the LTTE and the decline of the Sri Lankan Army.
July 18, 1996 : The LTTE overruns the Sri Lankan military base at Mullaitivu, the attack carried out after midnight. The number of killed in action and missing in action were around 1600 as per military sources. There were more than 1500 LTTE cadre's participated the attack and captured large quantity of arms and military equipment. The base was used as Sri Lanka Army's 215 Brigade Headquarters. One of the major encounters broke out between the LTTE and the Special Forces (SF) commando reinforcements Lt. Col. Laphir and 36 others were killed and 60 more were wounded. Sri Lanka Air-force pilots landed the second batch of Commando's in the same location and also taken the dead body of Lt. Col.Laphir by rope pulled down from the helicopter under heavy LTTE gunfire. The code name given by the LTTE "Oyatha Alaikal" (Endless Waves) to attack the Mullaitivu Military base and SLA code was named as "Operation Thrivida Pahara" for the rescue mission.
The Kallarawa massacre is an incident on May 25, 1995 during which LTTE cadres massacred 42 Sinhalese men, women and children in Kallarawa. All the remaining civilian survivors fled the village after this incident leading to its depopulation. However survivors from the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities have returned to Kallarawa under the protection of the Sri Lankan Army.
The Gongala Massacre was a massacre that occurred on September 18, 1999, in the small village of Gonagala, located in the Ampara District of Sri Lanka. According to reports, over 50 men, women and children were hacked to death in the middle of the night. The massacre is attributed to the LTTE, which is banned as a terrorist organization by a number of countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, India and the European Union.
The Gonagala massacre is one of several such attacks believed to have been carried out by the LTTE. However these murders gained notoriety because, unlike previous attacks, most of the LTTE cadres who took part in it were women. According to survivors, there was a significant presence of female cadres among the 75 LTTE cadres who took part in the killings
Controversy over the Army's handling of its casualties and their families
In August 2001, S. P. Thamilselvan, the leader of the political wing of the Tamil Tigers, accused the Sri Lankan Army of intentionally abandoning the bodies of nearly a thousand soldiers on the battlefields since May, despite the Tamils’ request that the Red Cross act as an intermediate. He told visiting relatives of missing servicemen that the military had only accepted 55 bodies to return to their families, while burying the rest with full military honors on the spot. Thamilselvan did not offer a reason for the army’s refusal, but did note that several hundred decomposing bodies remained in a minefield due to the danger of extracting them. A Sri Lankan military spokesman, Brigadier Sanath Karunaratne, acknowledged that the army cannot always retrieve a body because it might cost more lives, but denied the Tamil accusations, saying they were propaganda aimed at demoralizing the parents of the missing soldiers.
However, this was not the first time issues had arisen over reclamation of soldiers’ remains and the Army’s responsiveness to the requests of families of missing soldiers for information regarding their fate. In April 2003, a group of parents of some of the 619 soldiers reported missing from a battle fought 27 September 1998 obtained permission from the LTTE to travel to the battle site. The families’ previous inquiries at the Defense Ministry, the Sri Lankan Army, and the International Committee of the Red Cross for information on their sons’ fates had been fruitless. At the battlefield they learned that some 500 bodies had been piled together, doused with kerosene, and burnt on the spot by the Sri Lankan Army. Upon their return, a lawsuit was filed on the families’ behalf requesting a mass funeral and DNA testing so Buddhist, Muslim and Christian families could collect their sons’ remains and give them proper burials. The Ministry of Defence organized funeral in 2006, but declined to perform the requested DNA testing.