Tigers hit back at Pattiaddy but move artillery out from Sampoor
September 4th, 2006
by D.B.S. Jeyaraj
In the on going battle of see -saw fortunes for control of strategic Sampoor , the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) hit back at the security forces effectively in Pattiaddy. But moved out their long – range artillery from the conflict zone Southwards, to the Verugal – Vaaharai region.
The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) commenced ground operations on Monday August 28th to take control of the Sampoor region comprising an area of 19 square miles and its adjacent areas. The region in Muthur East division had been constantly subjected to aerial bombardment, artillery fire and naval gunboat shelling in a bid to drive Tamil civilians away and destroy infra-structure.
Seven days of fighting saw a comparative lull on Aug 31st and Sep 3rd respectively. The days of “lull” saw the GOSL troops trying to consolidate gains achieved while engaging in low intensity artillery fire.
The security forces moving out in different directions from different fronts had advanced to a considerable extent by Friday Sep 1st.
Troops moving out from Pachanoor had advanced about 2 km to reach Santhanavattai near the Malligaitheevu junction. Security personnel moving out from the Thoppoor and Selvanagar camps had moved forward about one KM to reach Pattiaddy.
The main thrust from Kattaiparichan littoral was the most successful having advanced more than three kilometres and entering border areas of the Sampoor Grama Sevakha division. Security forces brought under control the whole of Kattaiparichan in addition to Senaiyoor, Ganeshapuram and Ambalnagar.
Even as the GOSL troops were consolidating gains on the Kattaiparichan – Sampoor front the tigers hit back ferociously at Pattoaddy. This was the first time in the on going battle that the LTTE launched a limited counter- strike. The tigers had been fighting what was mainly a defensive war.
The LTTE on Saturday Sep 2nd counter – attacked GOSL troops at Pattiaddy and compelled them to retreat to earlier positions in Selvanagar and Thoppoor.
LTTE Political Commissar for Trincomalee S. Elilan claimed that 12 soldiers were killed and more than 25 injured in the Pattiaddy fighting. He also said that an Armoured Personnel Carrier and another armoured vehicle were destroyed in the fight.
The LTTE had lost four men at Pattiaddy. They were Capt. Lathangan, (Ganeshamoorthy Balachandran of Sittandy)2nd Lt Olivanan (Meganathan Sibirajan), Kaavalan ( Shanmugam Naveenan of Munaikkaadu) and a woman cadre Thillaimathy (Thangarajah Geetheswary of Kokkatticholai). All four were from Baticaloa district.
While successfully repulsing the army at Paddiaddy the LTTE has commenced moving out its long – range artillery from Sampoor to the Verugal – Vaaharai region further South. This move is seen as a precursor to a complete withdrawal of the LTTE from Sampoor in the days to come.
With the GOSL pumping in more men and materials in addition to constant – bombing and shelling the tigers are not expected to hold out for long unless further reinforcements from the North arrive. While continuing to resist in Sampoor the LTTE is expected to make a strategic withdrawal at an appropriate juncture to avoid full encirclement.
It was the presence of long – range artillery in Sampoor that exacerbated a threat perception to the GOSL. The LTTE was capable of attacking Trincomalee and China Bay from Sampoor. This could have disrupted Trincomalee – China Bay in addition to cutting off supply lines to Jaffna. Also Sampoor was a launching pad to attack Trincomalee.
The LTTE counter – offensive during the Maavilaaru crisis saw the tigers using Sampoor to launch an attack on Muthur and also send out a flotilla to Trincomalee. The LTTE also fired artillery at Trinco harbour on two occasions during the campaign. On one occasion 36 shells fell inside the Naval HQ in Trinco within 30 minutes.
The tigers were reported to stationed one 130 mm, two 122mm and four 120 mm in the Sampoor regions. A number of well – camouflaged platforms were constructed along the coast. The tigers used to shift the heavy artillery from place to place amid great difficulty. Despite intensive bombardment and shelling the armed forces were unable to silence or destroy these batteries.
Now the LTTE had commenced moving out the artillery to Verugal – Vaaharai region on the border of Trincomalee – Vaaharai districts. It is reported that the LTTE already has two long range 120 mm and 122 mm artillery there. The firing range of 120 mm’s are 15 km and 122 mm 20 km respectively.
According to reports from the conflict zone the LTTE is now firing only 60 mm mortars and Rocket propelled Grenades. The GOSL is using a lot of field artillery in addition to deploying many battle tanks and armoured cars. LTTE landmines, Johnny mines and other booby traps have reportedly exacted a heavy toll.
The LTTE had three naval bases at Soodaikkudaa, Ilakkanthai and Kadatkaraichenai in the Sampoor region. In addition there were 14 camps in the interior. The LTTE had Sampoor as its Trincomalee headquarters with its head camp, political office, courts, Police station, bank etc being situated there.
There were about 15,000 people in 12 villages in the Sampoor region prior to the escalation of bombardment and shelling. Sampoor was first targetted on April 25th this year when the army commander Sarath Fonseka was targetted by a suicide bomber.
Gen Sarath Fonseka made an unpublicised trip to Trincomalee district last week. Army deputy chief Gen Nanda Mallawaratchy is already stationed in Kallaru to oversee the Sampoor operation. Fonseka’s visit to the frontline cheered the troops and increased morale it is learnt.
Security personnel numbering 2000 – 2500 are deployed currently on the Sampoor front.They are from the 8th Sinha regiment under Lt. Col. Romesh Fernando, 6th Gajaba regiment commanded by Lt. Col Thalgahawatte and the special forces 2nd brigade led by Major.Ihalage.
The army lost 22 men including two officers in the first three days of fighting. 130 men were injured. It is estimated now that army casualties are about 70 killed and more than 200 wounded. Injured soldiers are receiving treatment at the Polonnaruwa, Kanthalai, Trincomalee , Anuradhapura hospitals . roops are also being treated at Sri Jayawardhenapura, Colombo national and Military hospitals.
The LTTE has lost about 40 to 50 men including Major Parani. The exact number of injured tigers are not known. The LTTE medical unit is attending to them. Trinco Special Commander “Col” Sornam is in charge of Sampoor defences while Batticaloa Special Commander “Col” Bhanu is coordinating logistics from Verugal.
The intense conflict has made the Sampoor region virtually devoid of civilians. At least twelve villages have faced utter destruction while other villages in the Muthur East and Eechilampattru divisions are also affected. The bulk of Tamil civilians in these areas have crossed over to Batticaloa and are in the Koralaipattru North division as refugees.62, 643 peole from 15, 540 families have sought refuge there.
The displacement of Tamils from these regions in Trincomalee district was a deliberate move . It was clearly intended to de – populate the region of Tamils for politico – military reasons. While chasing Tamils away from their traditional homeland the GOSL is announcing that it will re- settle Muslims in their areas.
The GOSL also intends setting up a high security zone from Muthur Jetty to Ilakanthai. Tamil civilians will be deprived of their habitat as in Jaffna. Muslims will be settled in Muthur and Thoppoor as “buffers”.
The GOSL is projecting an impression through its media that the physical conquest of Sampoor will ensure the security of Muthur and Trincomalee. The LTTE’s Elilan has warned that such an assumption may be wrong. He has pointed out that the LTTE managed to conduct many successful operations in the past when Sampoor was controlled by the armed forces.
The Mahinda Rajapakse regime is relying solely on military force as the solution for the ethnic problem. Such assumptions can be dangerously wrong. Sadly much blood will have to flow before enlightenment dawns. Whatever the ultimate fate there is no doubt that the beleaguered and oppressed Tamil people will continue to suffer.
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