Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Devastation on the Northern Front

by K. Mylvaganam, April 25, 2008

The soldiers were made to believe that the Tigers had been beaten, that only a few hundreds of them were left behind and that taking over Vanni would be a piece of cake. I understand that the troops in the peninsula were informed that the Tigers have moved the majority of their cadre to guard the long boarder from Manal Aru to Mannar. Even some of the top ranks believed their own tale.

The picture is self-explanatory of the devastation that has taken place at the northern frontier on Tuesday. The Sri Lankan army tried a multi-throng attack mobilizing two entire divisions with their “well trained” Special Task Force (STF) in the fore front. But things did not work out as expected by General Sarath Fonseka. To give the devil its due, the former General Janaka Perera only a few days back advised the government that multi-throng attacks would be costly both in personnel and expenses. He has been proved right by the Tigers on 23.04.2008. Strangely, this date coincides with the battle over Elephant Pass, which cost the army the lives of severSoldiers April 24 2008al top-ranking officers and thousands of soldiers. They also left behind a large quantity of arms and ammunition, including a 152mm artillery gun. Now Sarath Fonseka, unable to take the heat of the defeat, has ordered that Janaka Perera should not be permitted to enter any army camp.

The government is playing down the actual number of the soldiers killed. Reliable sources put the figure to be 178 killed and over 400 wounded. Almost 600 soldiers have been removed from the field for good. I counted the bodies of 28 soldiers at the esplanade in Kilinochchi at 7.00 a.m. (pic. attached). I was told that they were to be handed over to the International Red Cross (ICRC). A large quantum of arms and ammunitions were also taken over by the Tigers. They are listed below:

T.56-2 Rifles 

41

T.56 Rifles 

03

AKLMG Rifles

05

PKLMG Rifles  

02

R.P.Gs  

05

40mm artlllery

03

R.P.G – anti tank   

07

R.P.G – anti troop 

21

Propellers  

26

Headgear

12

Medium Rounds

8,500

A.K. Magazines

104

P.K.Links & Rounds 

1,500

 

On top of these, it is confirmed that four battle tanks were completely destroyed and two were damaged.

All the artificial boosting of moral of the soldiers has been proved wrong by this massacre. This was illustrated according to the Tiger cadres, who said that several hundreds of soldiers were seen running for their lives, leaving all what they had in their possession. The soldiers were made to believe that the Tigers had been beaten, that only a few hundreds of them were left behind and that taking over Vanni would be a piece of cake. I understand that the troops in the peninsula were informed that the Tigers have moved the majority of their cadre to guard the long boarder from Manal Aru to Mannar. Even some of the top ranks believed their own tale.

The army has been waging the war on Vanni for over a year now. Gen. Sarath Fonseka said that Madhu Church would be taken over before the Church feast in July/August in 2007. He moved the deadline to X’Mas 2007. This was again shifted to the Sinhala New Year in April, 2008. Having failed all these targets, Gen. Fonseka decided to move through the Kilaly/Muhamalai/Nagarkovil front. It is surprising that Gen. Fonseka resorted to such a silly and foolhardy attempt in spite of the terrible experiences the army has faced in the past, when they lost hundreds of their soldiers.

The army had only two alternatives. One is to make many attacks on a smaller scale, just as they have been trying in Manal Aru, Vavuniya and Mannar. The other is to conduct a multi-throng attack as they tried on the 22nd instant. Both these tactics have failed miserably. Now one can see that they are bogged down by these avenues and are in a bewildered and puzzled situation.

More than the military defeat, the political repercussions for the President and his government is going to be disastrous. They have been boasting that they were killing 20 to 30 Tigers daily, their troops were advancing and that the Tigers were on the run. The Sinhalese masses, who were asked to tighten their belts until the Tigers are beaten, are not going to swallow that pill any longer. The prices of essential items are on the increase and a severe shortage in rice is very imminent. Now rice is sold for Rs.90.00 kg. One can expect several strikes, agitations, etc., especially with the main JVP block at daggers drawn with the President in particular and the government in general for splitting the JVP through Wimal Weerawansa and providing him perks and special security.

The sight of the bodies of the soldiers was not a pleasant one I must say. They had already started stinking due to the extreme heat. While I was walking out of the area after taking the photos, a journalist approached me with his camera crew and asked how “happy” I was over the “victory” in the fight at the Northern frontier. I paused for a while and said “ We Tamils do not rejoice over the death of anyone, not even if they are our enemies, and killing these soldiers is no victory for us either. But I will consider this as a devastating defeat and a deadly blow to the army and to the Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinist government and its President.”