Sri Lankan Armed forces, Police, Police Special Task Force (STF) and Civil Defence Force (CDF) are engaged in a military operation to liberate the Northern Province of Sri Lanka from the clutches of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE. The terrorist outfit maintains its military activities mainly over two districts of the Northern Province namely Kilinochchi and Mulaithiuvu. Also, the LTTE is still active in Northern borders of the Mannar and Vavuniya districts. The region under terrorist clutches is commonly known as the Wanni region. The Sri Lanka Army plays the key role in land operations under the mission to liberate the Wanni. While the Navy denies terrorists the use of sea lines of communication and the Air Force destroys terrorist nerve centres deep in the Wanni, the Army is engaging the enemy in two theatres of battle namely, Jaffna and Wanni.
Jaffna & Wanni
In the Jaffna theatre of operations, the Security Forces’ Forward Defence Line (FDL) stretches for about 12 km on the neck of the Jaffna peninsula. In the Jaffna theatre, the Army is at present engaging the terrorists on three fronts: Kilaly, Muhamalai and Nagarkovil.
The Wanni theatre of operations is considered the area where at present the most strategically important battle is fought. The security forces FDL stretches about 115 km on the mainland between the Mannar coast on the North Western shores of the Island to the Kokkuttoduvai coast on the North Eastern shores. The Army has deployed 3 main divisions to lead the military operation along the Wanni Defence on 3 battlefronts namely; Mannar, Vavuniya and Welioya.
The Mannar battlefront is operated by the fighting elements of Army Task Force One. At present the troops of Task Force One advance along the North Western borders of Wanni crushing LTTE defences north of the Mannar area The Map 1 shows the battlefield progress of Task Force One in terms of capturing, strategic areas and rescuing peace-loving citizens from the LTTE’s clutches. As the present military strategy goes far beyond land domination, the intensity of battle is the most on this front.
Soldiers of Task Force 1 have so far wrested control over strategically important Adampan Town (May 7, 2008), and Mullikandaal (May 8, 2008) and Maanthottam (May 10, 2008) villages. As the LTTE’s main supply route via sea still lies over the Gulf of Mannar, the battlefront is considered to be of the highest strategic importance. Thus, the damage done to the enemy in terms of destroyed bunkers, strong points and attrition rate remain highest irrespective of the relatively low land domination.
The Vavuniya battlefront lies on the middle on the Wanni FDL and at present mostly active on the Western region of the Jaffna – Kandy (A-9) main road. Fighting elements of the Army 57 Division lead the battle. The greatest progress in land domination has been obtained on this front. The Map 2 shows the present situation on the front.
Soldiers of 57 Division spearhead the Wanni operation dominating over 622 Sq. Km of land. They have so far liberated Madhu Camp including the sacred Madhu Church (April 24, 2008), Palampiddi Town (May 16, 2008), Mundimurippu village (May 23, 2008) and Periyamadhu village (June 15, 2008).
The Welioya battlefront stretches along the FDL from the East of the A-9 road but is mostly active on the Eastern borders of the Wanni region. Fighting elements of the Army 59 Division are at present leading the battle into the thick Mulaithiuvu jungles. This battlefront lies closest to the strong LTTE positions in the Wanni. Mulaithiuvu, the Wanni heartland of the terrorists lies just 25 km from Kokkuttoduvai, the place where the present operations have originated. Map 3 shows the present progress of the battle.
Soldiers of 59 Division slowly but steadily advance through the Mulaithivu jungles from Janakapura, Kiriibbanwewa, Andankulama and Kokkuttoduvai areas. Their greatest achievement so far is the capture of Muunagam base (May 30, 2008), the main logistic link between LTTE strongholds in Wanni and LTTE cadres in the east, across the Mulaithiuvu jungle.