The Lanka Academic

VOL. 9, NO. 229


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Sri Lanka says it captured key rebel defense line
Associated Press, Thu November 20, 2008 04:49 EST . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan troops overran a strategically important rebel defense line Thursday north of the Tamil Tiger's de facto state, breaking open another front in the country's raging civil war, the military said.

While government forces have pushed deep into rebel-held territory from the south in recent months, the rebels have managed to counter repeated strikes launched by the military from the northern Jaffna peninsula.

But on Thursday, after three days of heavy fighting, troops broke through and captured the rebels' first line of defense at Muhamalai, advancing 800 yards (meters), military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. The rebels still maintain two other defense lines.

As the fighting has intensified, aid groups have ramped up their warnings about the fate of hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians in the rebel-controlled area. Amnesty International said Wednesday tens of thousands of people are now without shelter.

Thursday's victory was significant because it marked the first time during the recent fighting that government forces were able to pierce rebel fortifications in the area and because rebel troops fought ferociously to hold off the advancing troops.

``They had a lot of casualties and we are going toward the second line of defense,'' Nanayakkara said. A Ministry of Defense statement said scores of rebels were killed in the fighting.

Rebel spokesmen could not be reached for comment because most communication lines with the north have been severed. But a rebel-affiliated Web site reported Wednesday that Tamil Tiger fighters killed 36 soldiers during the recent fighting along the defense line.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent state for the country's ethnic minority Tamils, who have suffered marginalization by ethnic Sinhalese-controlled governments. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.

In April, Tamil Tiger fighters killed scores of troops along the northern front when they feinted an attack on government positions, quickly retreated and then pounded the pursuing soldiers with artillery.

The capture of the Muhamalai defense line put further pressure on the rebels, who are defending dwindling territory while trying to fight off a multi-pronged offensive from the south, west and north.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Amnesty International accused the government which expelled the United Nations and other international aid groups from rebel-held areas in September of failing to provide proper shelter and protection to the displaced.

``Tens of thousands of families are now enduring the monsoon season with limited food, shelter, water or sanitation,'' the London-based group said.

India on Thursday gave nearly 1,870 tons (1,700 metric tons) of emergency food aid and other relief to the Red Cross for distribution to the displaced families. The International Committee of the Red Cross was the only international organization allowed to remain in the rebel region.

Amnesty said not enough food aid was reaching the region and many families were living in makeshift shelters of ripped up rice sacks strung over bits of wood. The onset of the rainy season also brought an increased risk of a disease outbreak even as staff and supplies at health care clinics dwindled, the group said, calling on the government to restore aid agencies' access to the area.

Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe dismissed the report as ``absolutely incorrect,'' saying six convoys of international food aid were sent to the area in recent weeks and that a U.N. assessment team was also allowed to enter.

Many of those displaced were staying in schools, but he said he expected more shelter materials would be brought to the area in the coming days.

Amnesty also accused the rebels of forcibly recruiting civilians and preventing many of the displaced from moving to safer areas.Discuss this story
Published: Thu Nov 20 06:49:54 EST 2008

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Sri Lanka takes Tiger defences, kills scores: defence ministry  -

LTTE still most lethal: tribunal, 20 Nov 2008. New Delhi: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam continues to be an extremely potent, most lethal and well-organised terrorist force in Sri Lanka and has strong connections in Tamil Nadu and certain pockets of southern India, said the Tribunal under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act while upholding the ban imposed by the Centre on May 14, 2008.

Justice Vikramajit Sen of the Delhi High Court, who was on the tribunal, agreed with the Centre’s submissions that “the LTTE continues to use Tamil Nadu as the base for carrying out smuggling of essential items like petrol and diesel, besides drugs to Sri Lanka.”

The Centre was represented by Additional Solicitor-General P.P. Malhotra, and Tamil Nadu by counsel S. Thananjayan. The LTTE was not represented by counsel.

It was submitted that Kalpakkam and Koodankulam, where nuclear plants are in existence, were proximate to LTTE bases in Sri Lanka. “The Government of India is apprehensive that unless the ban on the LTTE continues, acts of aggression on Indian soil are likely to occur.” More...Discuss this story
Published: Thu Nov 20 16:29:50 EST 2008 Back to the top

SRI LANKA: Highway To Hell, November 20, 2008. The army has six divisions fighting in the north against the LTTE. In the west, the 58th divisions advances along the coast. Next to it, inland and advancing on the LTTE capital of Kilinochchi, is the 57th division. Two Task Forces from the 58th division, are to the right of the 57th, covering large areas of front. Coming up from the south, in the center of the island, is the 56th division. On the east coast is the 59th division. In the Jaffna peninsula, which is cut off from the rest of the island by LTTE territory, are the 53rd and 55th divisions. The 57th and 58th divisions have made the greatest gains this year, liberating nearly half (the western half) of LTTE held territory in the north.

The LTTE runs a highly organized police state in the territory it still controls in the north. The LTTE decides who works for the NGOs, and these aid organizations are persuaded, or coerced, to do what the LTTE wants. The families of those who get NGO jobs via the LTTE, are obliged to provide one or more teenage or adult men or women for the LTTE combat units, and these "volunteers" are expected to be diligent soldiers, or else their families will suffer. These families also provide most of the suicide bombers.

Unable to stop the army advance, the LTTE is trying to manipulate public opinion in India, and throughout the world, to get the Sri Lankan government to accept a ceasefire. They do this by stressing the suffering of Tamil civilians living in territory controlled by the LTTE. These civilians are basically hostages, with the LTTE threatening to kill anyone who tries to flee to government territory. LTTE fighters at the front line have orders to keep the army out, and Tamil civilians in. While many of the civilians are all for more Tamil autonomy in Sri Lanka, they also find themselves trapped by the LTTE and its determination to fight to the end. To make that happen, all adult Tamils are now subject to involuntary military service. Most of these fighters barely know how to operate their weapons, but the LTTE has found a way to make them useful even if they are killed. If some of these fighters are hit by an air strike or artillery, their weapons are taken away, and pictures taken to show "civilians killed by Sri Lankan military." The LTTE also puts many military facilities in residential areas. So if the place get hit with artillery or air power, there will likely be civilian casualties that can be used to try and change Indian, and world, opinion against the Sri Lankans. The LTTE wants a ceasefire badly, but the government is demanding that the LTTE surrender its weapons before that happens.

The capture of the Poonaryn peninsula now allows the army to attack the heavily defended LTTE capital of Kilinochchi from three sides. Kilinochchi is heavily defended, and the army does not want to take a lot of casualties taking it by direct assault. So the battle is proceeding like a siege, with the army wearing down defenses and taking the defenders bunkers one at a time. Meanwhile, troops are beginning to take more LTTE territory on the east coast. The LTTE is having a hard time maintaining the front lines across the island, and the army is pushing through in more and more places, especially to the sides of Kilinochchi. More...
Published: Thu Nov 20 15:24:26 EST 2008 Back to the top

At least 60 killed in Sri Lanka battle, military says, Thu Nov 20, 2008 . COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lankan troops killed at least 50 Tamil Tiger rebels in a four-day battle for a bottleneck on the Jaffna Peninsula where both sides have been in a standoff for years, the military said on Thursday... Back to the top

Lanka may ban Tamil Tigers soon: PM, November 20. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka has said the government may ban the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) even before the people ask for it amid continued fighting in the north... Back to the top

Charity funding terror: Sri Lanka
National Post, 19 Nov 2008. TORONTO -- Liberty Square Shopping Plaza has a South Asian convenience store and a branch of the Toronto Public Library, but the tenant that has brought this busy strip mall international notoriety is upstairs above a jewellery store... Back to the top

Sri Lankan refugees continue to suffer
Express, November 20. TIRUNELVELI: The Sri Lankan refugees accommodated at a refugee camp at Naranammalpuram near Tirunelveli are living in an unhygienic and deprived environment for the past 19 years... Back to the top

Peace a priority for Sri Lanka envoy, November 19, 2008. Sri Lankan High Commissioner Dayananda Perera has one overriding goal for his time in Canada -- to unite the majority Sinhalese and separatist Tamils... Back to the top

Cong wants CPI to clarify Lanka policy, 20 Nov 2008. CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Congress president K V Thangkabalu on Wednesday said the law would take its own course against political parties rendering support to a banned organisation like the LTTE... Back to the top

Sri Lanka lender awaits RBI nod to acquire bank in SouthHemang Palan
FE, November 20. The largest private lender of Sri Lanka, Hatton National Bank is likely to acquire an Indian bank that has a chain of branches in southern states of the country if allowed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the fiscal year 2009-10... Back to the top

Sri Lankan military says jets bomb rebel camp
Associated Press, Wed November 19, 2008 01:59 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan air force jets bombed a rebel training camp in the north as ground forces waged new battles with Tamil Tiger rebels across the front lines, the military said Wednesday... Back to the top

Amnesty slams Sri Lanka, Tigers over civilians in war zone, 19 Nov 2008. COLOMBO (AFP) — Amnesty International on Wednesday said Sri Lanka was unable to provide for the basic needs of 300,000 people trapped inside rebel-held areas and accused Tiger guerrillas of using them as human shields... Back to the top

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