Part 3 of the UTHR(J) Special Report No 34: Mattalan: Escape invites Death and Staying is Worse (continued fromPart 2)
Use of Bombs, Cluster Munitions and White Phosphorous; and Curtailment of Medical Aid
The first public reports on the use of cluster munitions appeared in the international media in early February 2009. On 4th February AFP’s Ravi Nessman reported citing the Colombo UN Spokesman Gordon Weiss that 52 civilians had been killed in intense fighting over the past day and that cluster munitions were fired outside the Puthukkudiyiruppu Hospital, which too had been struck by artillery killing 12 persons. The Government immediately denied it. Mr. Weiss as quoted by AFP said that cluster munitions had been used at least once earlier in recent weeks. The same report also quoted him saying, ‘the UN accepted the government’s assurance that they did not have the weapons’. It appears the UN took a political decision not to pursue the matter.
Our sources have assured us that cluster shells, known locally as kotthu kundu, were regularly fired from 21st January. They were then noticed by the Oxfam staff at Thevipuram and subsequently by the OCHA, which had its office near Puthukkudiyiruppu Hospital. Both observations were reflected in the UN statement. Continue reading
In the closing days of March and the first week of this month, April, the SL Army outflanked, cut off, and destroyed the Charles Anthony Regiment of the LTTE, in one of the most decisive battles of the war. For almost a year, the SL Army, sweeping across the Wanni from west to east, had attempted to pin down the LTTE and cause it significantly large casualties. However, the ever elusive Tigers have always prefered to slip away when outflanked, rarely allowing themselves to be trapped in large numbers, sacrificing rearguard units so that the larger forces could escape. While the casualties came in trickles, the jugular sought by the military high command was not forthcoming. Thus, the encirclement and destruction of the Charles Anthony at Aanandapuram, east of Puthukkudiyiruppu, could be celebrated as a memorable victory for the SL Army.
However, what makes this defeat a catastrophic one for the LTTE is the fact that along with the Charles Anthony went almost every remaining unit commander of the LTTE, and many of their deputies as well. In a stroke, the Tigers have been virtually emasculated. The fact that the GoSL has now declared a 48-hour ceasefire over the Buddhist and Hindu New Year, is indicative of the SL Army’s confidence in defeating the LTTE in a matter of weeks rather than months.
On March 30th, elements of the SL Army’s 53rd and 58th divisions and Task Force 8 advanced out of Puthukkudiyiruppu in a pincer movement intended to outflank the Charles Anthony Regiment which held the eastward-running Puthukkudiyiruppu-Iranappaalai-Puthumaathalan road. A brigade of the 58th Division swung east and then south, while another from the 53rd, along with TF8, commanded by Col GV Ravipriya, attacked east and then north; both pincers meeting at Pachaipullumottai junction in the rear of the Charles Anthony. The Tigers fought fiercely to prevent the encirclement, but were overwhelmed. Lt Col Gopith, CO of the Charles Anthony and his 2/ic Amuthab were killed on the 31st, and demoralised and leaderless, the Tiger troops were encircled. Outnumbered nearly ten to one, over a thousand Tigers faced almost 10,000 troops of the 4th, 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th and 20th Gajabas, the 11th and 20th Light Infantry, the 5th Vijayabahu Infantry, and the 9th Gemunu Watch. Also in action was the SL Army’s elite special operations forces — elements of the 2nd Commandos and the 1st Special Forces. Continue reading
When Canada’s federal government decided to build and operate eight experimental surface wave radar systems as a security measure in the aftermath of the September 11th 2001 attacks, Ottawa set aside $43 million in public funds for the project and picked Raytheon’s HFSWR (High-Frequency Surface Wave Radar) system, a pioneering land-based radar that had been successfully demonstrated in December 1999. Seven years later, the whole operation has been scrapped, and the Government of Sri Lanka seems to be the beneficiary. And Raytheon Canada, of course; a US-owned subsidiary which spent $39 million to develop the system, working alongside Canadian federal defence scientists.
Raytheon’s HF-SWR-503 system transmits waves that follow the curve of the earth’s surface, and can detect maritime vessels and low-flying aircraft that are hundreds of kilometers over the horizon, as far away as 370km from Canada’s coast. Most regular surface radars are line-of-sight systems, with very limited range. Anything over the horizon is undetectable. The Raytheon system uses the ocean’s surface as a conductor to increase its range. According to Raytheon, the HF-SWR-503 system is ideal for defensive operations and monitoring of a nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and is sophisticated enough to detect even small boats such as those used by drug smugglers and terrorists — in fact, it seems almost tailor-made for use against the the LTTE’s sea-going wing — Sea Tigers — as well as the single-engine Ziln aircraft the terrorists used last year for nuisance raids. Continue reading