Part 2 of the UTHR(J) Special Report No 34: From Kilinochchi to Puthukkudiyiruppu (continued from Part 1)
The fall of Kilinochchi and After
Soon after Kilinochchi fell on 1st January 2009, senior LTTE leaders conferred in Visuamadu. While several of the senior leaders reportedly believed that the war could no longer be won and that it was time for a new approach, none was in a position to tell Prabhakaran, who had acquired a reputation of invincibility to live up to.
Sources who had access to senior leaders said that the counsel of men like V. Rudrakumaran and K. Pathmanathan would have been of little consequence because they were not on the ground and it was often easy for those like Castro and Nadesan to discredit them by dropping innuendos suggesting they were agents of outfits like CIA or RAW. If a difference was to be made it need have come from persons like the late Anton Balasingham or Shankar who had the capacity to force the leader’s attention and carry through an argument to its end. The talk got around among the people that Prabhakaran had become mentally unbalanced after the fall of Killinochchi. Other reports said that he was refusing to meet groups like the Christian clergy and intellectuals, who were pressing for course change. Continue reading
The fall of Kilinochchi on January 2nd 2009 (see battle map), was viewed as unexpectedly quick in many sectors. Several military analysts, particularly B Raman and Col Hariharan, were expecting a titanic duel between the SL Army and the LTTE before the latter eventually relinquished their hold on their administrative capital. Even with Task Force 1 poised to take Paranthan by New Year’s Day, and the 57th Division driving into the southern flank of Kilinochchi, the writing on the wall hadn’t been read. With the A9 Highway towns of Paranthan and Iranamadu in SL Army hands, the Tigers risked a double envelopment from both flanks, with brigade-sized units sweeping round to cut off Kilinochchi. The LTTE would have foreseen this danger, and as the flanks crumbled, they withdrew swiftly towards Vaddakachchi in the east. After the heavy fighting on the flanks, the taking of Kilinochchi itself was relatively fast.
Both the 57th Division and TF1 continued the momentum, driving east and northeast of Kilinochchi, pushing the Tigers back so as to prevent an immediate counterattack. Elements of TF1 turned north and fought their way up to the southern edge of Elephant Pass. To the north of Elephant Pass, on the Kilali-Muhamalai-Nagarkovil line, the 53rd and 55th Divisions continued to apply pressure and force the LTTE to commit troops that could be valuable on the mainland.
Meanwhile, on the southern flank, TF2 and TF4 continued to make incremental gains across the A34 Highway linking Mankulam and Mullaitivu, with TF4 taking Oddusuddan on the 5th of January. The 59th Division on the east coast is currently the closest to Mullaitivu, in the Thanniyuttu sector just south of the Kilinochchi lagoon. This is a relatively urban area and the lack of manouver room means that the division cannot use mobility to envelope the defenders as was done in the advances up the northwest coast and across the Kilinochchi District. Any drive into southern Mullaitivu by elements of the 59th will mean slow and bloody fighting against the best of the Tiger units. On January 1st, a day before the fall of Kilinochchi, the 59th got a taste of this as the LTTE’s Ratha Regiment counterattacked and overran the 59th’s forward defence lines before being repulsed. Continue reading