An impressive performance by the LTTE Victor Unit
October 15th, 2006
By D.B.S. Jeyaraj
An important highlight of the fighting between Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on October 11th was the severe losses of armoured vehicles by the army At least twelve armoured fighter vehicles (AFV) and Armoured personnel carriers (APC) were put out of action by the tigers in three hours of fierce combat.
Even as fighting progressed and GOSL troops backed by artillery went forward. the advance was slowed down to some extent by tiger artillery as well as mines. Two Main Battle Tanks (MBT) were hit by anti – tank “monster” mines. These mines were placed and triggered by the Victor unit of the LTTE which specialises in anti – tank and anti – armoured vehicle warfare.
After the first MBT tank was hit and rendered non – operational the second MBT overtook it and proceeded ahead. This too was hit in turn by a “monster” anti – tank mine.
A third armoured vehicle moved in a different direction and fell into a deep, waterlogged ditch. It was a pit dug and covered up with vegetation It was a well cqamouflaged tiger trap.This too was laid by the Victor unit and demonstrated that the LTTE excelled in both using modern weaponery as well as engaging in comparatively “primitive” yet effective warfare tactics.
The LTTE’s Victor anti – tank and armoured unit continued engaging in action during intensive fighting too. Despite losing its founder – commander Lt. Col Akbar to a random army shell on Oct 7th members of the unit fought fiercely. In addition to the earlier losses of two armoured vehicles to “monster” mines and another to a camouflaged pit – trap , three more Armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) were hit by anti – tank RPG’ s and destroyed.
Six AFV’s comprising 4 Czhech built T – 55 ’s and two Russian built BMP’s were put out of action by the Victor unit.
The Victor anti – tank and armoured unit also fired at Chinese built Armoured Personnel carriers with success. Three APC’s were totally destroyed while another three were partially damaged .
Altogether the Victor unit had put six armoured fighting vehicles and six armoured personnel carriers out of action within a few hours of fighting.The armed forces have never sustained such massive losses in this manner before.
Significantly the LTTE suffered a major loss before Wednesday’s fighting. On Oct 7th Lt. Col Akbar of the LTTE was killed along the Muhamaalai FDL as a result of an army shell. Akbar who is a Batticaloa Tamil was the head of the Victor anti – armoured artillery unit which specialises in combatting tanks and armoured vehicles.
Akbar who joined the LTTE in 1990 got married in 2003. He was from its inception the chief of the Victor unit.It was named after former Mannar tiger commander Victor.
This unit known generally among LTTE cadres as the “RPG Commando” had its roots in the “Col” Kittu artillery unit and had its baptism of fire during “operation Sathjaya” in Kilinochchi.It then became a sub – division of the “Imran – Pandian” unit named after two of Prabakharan’s trusted bodyguards.
By 1997- 98 the anti – armoured artillery unit began functioning independently under Akbar.Members of this unit have vertical and not horizontal stripes on their uniforms. Though many stalwarts of this unit like Maj. Navachandran, Lt.Col Manivannan and Lt. Col Chutta are no more Akbar had survived despite being a veteran of many “Jayasikurui: and “Oyatha Alaigal” battles.
Lt. Col Akbar’s death at a critical time may very well have affected LTTE fortunes as the Victor unit was of crucial importance in countering army advances. His death however seems to have inspired his unit members to perform well during war. Instead of being a bad omen it seems to have become the “blood sacrifice” made to the Gods before war to ensure victory. This was a practice in the lost martial tradition of the Tamils that is now being revived by the Liberation Tigers.
[Pic: Courtesy of BBC.co.uk]
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