says Tigers held southern Delft for
hours; navy denies
returning to their homes
in the skies, panic on the ground
last month, when sailors stationed in the
Nilaveli area north of Trincomalee, saw
what they suspected to be an unidentified
aircraft, they did what has now become the
usual combat practice, open fire with
whatever they held.
incident later transpired to be a case of
'blue on blue' - the sailors had shot at
an airforce helicopter. The helicopter was
not hit, but the comedy continued.
"The harbour police said the incident
was an exercise, which we believe is not
true," the SLMM said in its reports.
there was panic last week, this time north
of Colombo, when bright streaking lights
were visible over the Katunayake area on
May 30 evening. The lights were
accompanied by the occasional sound of
aircraft. Nervous residents in the area
stared at the skies and were later
informed that the airforce was conducting
President Mahinda Rajapakse and Defence
Spokesman, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella
last week spoke of the redundancy of the
2002 truce. Looking at the ground
situation, they are not far off the mark -
in some areas, their comments would seem
as an understatement.
Mannar, fuel bowsers and food lorries
travel on the main highway with armed
escort. The food lorries have to unload at
two locations on the road to Mannar,
before finally reaching Mannar.
have been made by the security forces to
provide escort to the bowsers that bring
diesel, petrol and kerosene from
Anuradhapura to Mannar. Armed security
personnel accompany them from Anuradhapura
to Mannar in view of explosions on the
main road. This has been necessitated
since the bowser drivers are panic
stricken and reluctant to drive on this
road. Likewise, the lorries which bring
food- stuff to Mannar are also provided
with security escort from Chettikulam to
Mannar," the Mannar Citizens'
fish in this largest island in the
country, is an expensive commodity.
of fresh fish in Mannar are very high due
to the prices of fuel and the severe
restriction on fishing by the security
forces," the Committee added. Fishing
is only allowed between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
and fishermen lament that the best harvest
hours are in the night.
suburb rocked by claymore
war is everywhere. Last week, on May 28,
the second claymore exploded just outside
Colombo within four days, when a STF truck
was targeted at Ratmalana at the height of
evening traffic. On May 24, a similar
attack had targeted an army bus on
Reclamation Road, in Pettah killing one
and injuring six. The death toll in the
Ratmalana blast was higher at seven, and
more than 30 had been injured.
claymores had been set off by remote
detonators. Ironically, a few hours before
the Ratmalana blast, the Media Center for
National Security had put out a detailed
release on the use of the claymore by the
again the LTTE is using explosives but in
more sophisticated forms with the claymore
mine taking precedence. The claymore mine
as a weapon is used to offset their
dwindling manpower," it said on
Ratmalana blast triggered a massive
security operation the day after. Vehicles
and passengers were thoroughly checked at
the entry points to the city.
"Measures have been taken to enhance
security in the city," Military
Spokesperson, Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe
said. The general public should be
vigilant, especially while travelling on
public roads. "Abandoned buildings,
garbage dumps, garages, car parks,
bicycles, motorbikes, three-wheelers and
vegetable and fruit carts parked along
roads, and passenger buses are used for
terror attacks," MCNS said.
is not only in the city that security has
been enhanced. Last week, both the Tigers
and the military said that fighting units
in the north have been on high alert for
the past few weeks.
(cadres) are on stand to (prepared)
position. They are on alert," Tiger
military spokesperson, Rasiah Ilanthirayan
operations are on-going and there is no
change," Brig. Samarasinghe added.
The face-off point has been the area just
west of Madhu. The military said that
between May 23 and 25, the number of Tigers killed in the area was 12. Clashes were
reported on May 30 as well. Neither the
military nor the Tigers have been
forthcoming on the reasons behind the
battle shifting to the Madhu area.
May 30 night, several army camps in the
Mannar area had also reported two Tiger
aircraft flying over Madhu. The aircraft
had been spotted on radar, but quickly
disappeared thereafter, according to
sources in Vavuniya.
guaranteed by both parties
Omanthai and Uliyankulam crossover points,
closed due to shelling, reopened last week
after a closure of almost one week. The
ICRC said that its officials would man the
crossover points three days of the week
and that it had received security
guarantees from both parties. Around
25,000 persons use the two crossover
points on average everyday.
and artillery fire increased along the
northern Muhamalai line as well.
"Extensive fighting was reported from
the Forward Defence Localities (FDL) in
Jaffna, indicating that LTTE positions
were being heavily pounded. This continued
for some three days and then stopped
altogether," SLMM said.
claim, navy disclaims
monitors also said that according to the
information they have, the Tigers were
able to hold onto the southern parts of
Delft for three hours during the sea borne
attack on May 23. "The Sea Tigers
mounted a surprise attack on the sub-unit
on the southern end of the island, and
managed to hold it for approximately three
hours, before it was recaptured by the SLN.
Reports of casualties and damages are very
different from the two sides," the
monitors said. They also said that two Sea
Tiger boats and a Dvora were destroyed in
the navy rejected the claim that the
attackers were in control for any
considerable period of time. "The
ground battle lasted for only 25 minutes.
It is a small radar station and it was
always under our command," Navy
Spokesperson, Commander D. K. P.
added that the Tigers had made their
retreat just 45 minutes after the fighting
started, and that it was the sea
confrontation that went on till 9 a.m.
Security forces in Jaffna have also
reported that the FDL has been heavily
mined by the Tigers.
eastern region remained calm, with the
level of tension similar to previous
weeks. There was no shelling in the
Batticaloa District, nor in other parts of
the region, and the number of incidents
remained low. The reports on the number of
assassinations and abductions seems to
have stabilised, with similar numbers
being reported as in previous weeks, SLMM
government has resettled over 20000 in the
Porathivu and Vellavelli areas south west
of Batticaloa. The next stage of the
resettlement is due to start this week.
complain of wild elephant attacks
resettled in Batticaloa
relative calm in the east,
especially in Batticaloa, has
allowed the mass resettlement drive
to progress without major hiccups.
to UNHCR 30,000 persons have
returned to the Vellaveli division.
The plan is to resettle 90,000. UN
agencies have had access to the
resettled and said that it was
taking place in accordance with
international guidelines, a far cry
from March, when there were missives
of forced resettlement.
have access to the areas of return
and continue to monitor the process.
Our staff has made several
assessment missions, and generally
have seen that conditions are
conductive for return. Most of the
returnees seem happy to be home but
had received little prior
information about the conditions in
the areas of return. No security
incidents or arrests have been
reported in Vellaveli since the
start of the resettlement
process," UNHCR Spokesperson,
Jennifer Pagonis said in Geneva last
said that it was supporting
government efforts to return the
IDPs who fled en masse in March,
when fighting erupted in the area.
However, it said that it was seeking
access to areas where future
resettlements were to take place.
the recommendations made was that
the government prepare and
distribute information notification
in advance of the phase II movement
so the displaced are well informed
about what is happening. We also
urged the government to provide
clearance for a UN advance
assessment team as soon as possible
as it is a priority that agencies
have access to areas of return
before the return takes place,"
the resettlement got underway, Brig.
Samarasinghe told The Sunday Leader
that humanitarian agencies could not
be allowed into some of the areas
where resettlements were planned due
to security considerations. "We
have to clear the mines and other
unexploded devices for the areas to
Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies
also visited Porathivu and Vaharai
recently to assess the ground
CHA reports echoed those filed by UN
agencies. The returnees are provided
with new ID cards and dropped off
along the main roads closer to their
former homes. Some of the returnees
had grievances on some very
unexpected miscreants - wild
who have resettled stated that their
doors have been forced open, in some
cases loss of items were reported
and in others, everything has been
intact. Those who returned to their
homes in Paalayadivettai on May 22,
reported that their houses were
damaged by wild elephants, and some
houses were not conducive for
children to live in its present
discussing with STF officials, some
families returned to host families
and some males stayed back to repair
the houses. The STF was seen giving
instructions to civilians on how to
react, and inform them in the event
of wild elephants approaching at
night," the CHA said.
government has opened police
stations in Kokkadicholai, and there
is a heavy STF presence in the areas
where the resettlement has taken
people when spoken to, expressed
caution with regard to the heavy
military presence. The STF on the
other hand too is in an area which
until recently was controlled by the
LTTE. They too tend to take a very
cautious approach when dealing with
the population. We witnessed a STF
officer feeding two small children
who were hovering around him whilst
having lunch. At the sametime, a
patrol was closely watching the
settlement of a family next door to
a former LTTE office. It is very
essential that civil-military
liaisons be strengthened," CHA
government troops in control of
areas like Vaharai, there is still
fear among the resettled, primarily
due to the history.
and government staff in Vaharai
stated that there is no threat of
fighting/shelling and are satisfied
with the present security
arrangements. Some expressed
uncertainty as the events of
takeover have been cyclic,"
CHA added, of an area where
it reported that the last gun shot
sound was heard on March 7,
according to hospital staff.
the last two months, Vaharai has
been limping to normalcy - there are
four cooperative shops, the postal
service is up and running, and 11
buses ply on the road that at the
beginning of the year saw Tiger
cadres walking on, with guns.
Vaharai hospital treats 100 -120
patients a day (the count is less
during weekends). Staff and medicine
are adequate to meet the
demand," CHA said, adding,
"Eleven Sri Lanka Transport
Board buses are plying from
Valachchenai to Kadiravely and vice
versa along the A15 highway."
than 14,000 have returned to the 12
grama niladhari divisions in Vaharai,
and the pressing problems appear to
be housing and livelihoods. Some
parts of Vaharai were hit hard by
the tsunami. In fact, the Vaharai
hospital rebuilt after the truce,
was damaged by the waves even before
it was opened.
of the tsunami houses too have been
damaged by the fighting.
Reconstruction work also came to
standstill when fighting erupted.
"Many incomplete and damaged
houses were seen. People live in
temporary shelters in the same
compound while awaiting completion
of these houses.
houses have reached roof level. In
Panichchankerni, houses completed
after the tsunami have been damaged
due to the conflict. The completion
of tsunami houses will solve the
housing issue to a great extent. Of
the 1125 houses pledged in 12 GN
divisions, 325 houses have been
some of the 1800 fisher families
have returned to their livelihood
and there is no ban, farming has
been badly affected.
too take up farming when the seas
Farmers expressed the loss of
agricultural equipment and hand
tractors which they had obtained on
lease. They are looking forward to
the coming season to start
cultivation and are requesting the
bare minimum in assistance to get a
headstart. Families along Verugal
river and having a supply of water
have requested mechanical water
pumps and equipment to start chena
government appears to have realised
that life would not return to normal
fast despite the resettlement.
Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona who
also toured the region two weeks ago
told the humanitarian agencies that
the plan was to keep food assistance
going for the next three months with
the option of extending it for a
further three months.