Army takes Paranthan while moving closer to kilinochchi and Mullaitheevu
Sri Lankan Armed forces registered a military triumph on the last day of year 2008 when they began moving into the strategic northern Town Paranthan situated 385 km away from Colombo.
The conquest came a day before the target date of New years day on Jan 1st 2009 because troops of 58 division took the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam by surprise in athe early hours of the morning on December 31st.
Soldiers from the 2 commando corps moved through some paddy fields and the waters of a “Villu” or pond under cover of darkness and attacked tigers defending Paranthan from the rear.
With the soldiers moving in to the rear on one side soldiers of the 10 Gemunu watch who were located about 800 metres away from the key Paranthan “Santhi” or junction also intensified their drive.
Both the 2 commando corps and 10 Gemunu watch are key components of 58 division or Task Force one commanded by Brigadier Shavendra Silva.
Despite stiff resistance the soldiers were able to move forward and entered the Paranthan Town from two directions from the North – west and west.
The LTTE led by Kilinochchi area commander “Col” Velavan launched a series of limited counter – attacks to dislodge the soldiers but failed.
At least 25 tiger cadres attached to the Imran – Pandiyan infantry brigade were killed and about 50 – 60 injured.
The Air Force provided tremendous air support by conducting a series of regular air strikes in the Paranthan, Murasumottai- Kilinochchi area.
In the process several civilians in the Murasumottai area were killed and injured. At least five bodies were admitted to the hospital while about 16 were hospitalised for injuries.
Soldier who withstood LTTE counter attacks are now in the process of expanding control over the entire town which is also called Periya Paranthan.
Soldiers have also mounted the Jaffna – Kandy road known as A- 9 highway on two points to the north and south of Paranthan town and are encircling it.
Paranthan is 4.5 km to the north of Kilinochchi along the A – 9 highway.
Despite the army being on the ascendant it is learnt that LTTE cadres were yet in possession of the town’s central area around the key Paranthan “Santhi” or junction.
The tigers were however retreating gradually from their positions towards Murasumottai and Vatakachchi on the Paranthan – Mullaitheevu road.
The Paranthan “Santhi” or junction comprises two inter-sections within 125 metre distance of each other.
One intersection is where the Paranthan – Poonagary road reaches the A – 9 highway. This road commences in Poonagary in the west and reaches Paranthan in the north.
The other inter-section is where the Paranthan – Mullaitheevu road begins at Paranthan and then proceeds east.
The road goes east , south – east and then south to Mullaitheevu via places like Murasumottai, Vatakachi and Puthukudiyiruppu.
Both these intersections in close proximity on the A – 9 highway are called collectively as Paranthan “santhi”.
The 58 division commanded by Brigadier Shavendra Silva has been able to take Paranthan mainly through its strategic manouevering that has enabled it to make several remarkable victories in the past.
Before moving into Paranthan troops proceeding east along the axis of the Poonagary – Paranthan road reached the general area of Kunjuparanthan after crossing the Kudamurutty Aaru river.
Thereafter some soldiers cut across in a north – eastern direction and seized areas like Kamalakaddukulam, Komarikoodakulam and Thadduvankoddi. The LTTE defending positions further south and south – east of these areas were taken by surprise.
The troops were given intensive air support by the Air Force that conducted nearly twenty air strikes.
After reaching positions north and north – west of Paranthan the troops began changed course and moved south and south – east.
These moves placed the soldiers to the rear of tigers defending Paranthan and environs.
This was followed by the pre-dawn manoeuvre through fields and the pond under cover of darkness.
Paranthan is a key town with roads running to Elephant Pass in the north, Kilinochchi in the South, Poonagary in the West and Puthukudiyiruppu – Mullaitheevu in the east running through it.
The now defunct Paranthan chemicals factory was its economic mainstay with hundreds of residents being employed there.
Paranthan was considered important for the safety of Elephant Pass when the strategic isthmus was under military control.
So “Operation Sathjaya” was conducted in 1996 to take Paranthan.
But the LTTE also aware of Paranthan’s importance took the town in 1999 as part of its “operation Oyatha Alaigal”. The fall of Paranthan in 1999 was a prelude to Elephant Pass’s fall in 2000.
Now the capture of Paranthan will be a kind of precursor to the re-taking of Elephant Pass by the army.
By controlling Paranthan the armed forces would be ale to restrict LTTE supplies to the Muhamaalai front within the Jaffna peninsula.
Troops could also move very close to Elephant pass from the South. Thus LTTE cadres within the peninsula would find it difficult to maintain their positions being wedged in from both sides.
With the seizure of strategic Paranthan the soldiers have three options.
They can move north towards Elephant Pass or move South towards Kilinochchi or move east towards Murasumottai – Vatakachcchi – Puthukudiyiruppu.
Analysts say that soldiers are likely to pursue all three options simultaneously by launching advances and pushes on a rotational basis.
With the troops taking Paranthan tiger defences around Kilinochchi will be further weakened. Also tiger defences around Elephant Pass will be assailed from the rear.
While Elephant pass would be captured through a “double envelopement” strategy , Kilinochchi could be surrounded from several directions. Troops could move towards Vatakachi and then turn around and close in on Kilinochchi.
Thus the de – facto tiger administrative capital would be encircled and assailed on many fronts.
While 58 division enjoyed its triumph over Paranthan on New Year’s eve the divisions 57 commanded by Gen. Jagath Dias and 59 commanded by Brigadier Nandana Tudawatte also made significant strides.
57 division troops succeeded in breaking through the “L” shaped LTTE earth bund cum trench in the Adampan south area and moving forward towards the outskirts of Kanagapuram.
57 division soldiers also moved a short distance forward in Thirumurugandy and Iranaimadhu.
Thus tropps are now poised to move towards Kilinochchi from the north, west and south.
This makes Kilinochchi extremely vulnerable . It is likely to fall within a few days as soldiers edge closer.
In East Wanni soldiers of 59 division advanced on two fronts towards the Mullaitheevu town and in another direction towards Puthukudiyiruppu.
Proceeding along the coast from the north of Alambil soldiers advanced about a km north in the Silavathai area. Another column advanced eastwards from Thanioootru towards the Nandhikadal lagoon area.
Meanwhile other troops moved from the north of Mulliyawalai on the A – 34 highway through jungle areas in the direction of Puthukudiyiruppu.
According to analysts the chances of Kilinochchi falling before mid – January and Mullaitheevu town falling before end of January is very high.
These military victories will boost the government’s fortunes in the forthcoming Provincial council elections