SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
India’s ‘troubled Northeast’ has become a permanent stereotype, and most outsiders imagine a vast region of unending disorders and violence. Patterns of violence have, however, been showing continuous decline over the past years and, more significantly, the residual violence is now substantially concentrated, principally, in Manipur and Assam. The total fatalities in insurgent and terrorist violence for the region stood at 1515 in 2000 and have shown a continuous annual decline – with an aberrant spike in year 2003 – to 462 fatalities in 2006 (till October 6). Manipur remains the worst affected, accounting for over half (235) of all militancy-related fatalities in the region. Assam, with 96 dead, accounted for another 20.77 per cent of annual fatalities, and 60 deaths (12.98 per cent) in the fratricidal conflict between the two factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) – the Khaplang and the Isak-Muivah – in Nagaland.
Fatalities in the Northeast: 2000-2006
State-wise Fatalities in the Northeast – 2005-06
Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Sikkim remained entirely peaceful, and there was significant improvement in the overall law and order situation in Tripura and Meghalaya. Nagaland’s relative clam was disturbed essentially by turf wars and bidding for control over extortions networks between the NSCN-IM and NSCN-K, and factional clashes accounted for six civilian and 48 militant deaths. Assam, the region’s most populous and strategically important State, has witnessed a dramatic decline in violence, though killings, extortion and intimidation by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) remain a problem. 51 civilians, 30 Security Force (SF) personnel and 28 militants were killed in the State in 2006, as against 149 civilians, 10 SFs and 83 terrorists in 2005. 83 civilians, 35 SF personnel and 117 terrorists were killed in Manipur, as against 138 civilians, 50 SFs and 143 terrorists last year. Tripura saw a total of 48 killings (11 civilians, 10 SFs and 27 terrorists) in 2006, as against 73 fatalities in 2005 (34 civilians, 8 SFs and 31 terrorists). In Meghalaya, militancy claimed lives of seven civilians and 16 militants.
According to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, during the current year (till June 30) as compared to the corresponding period in 2005, the number of violent incidents had declined by eight per cent (from 688 to 638) and the combined number of security forces (SF) personnel and civilians casualties had declined by 15 per cent (from 185 to 159). So also, during, 2003 and 2004, militancy related fatalities came down by 24 per cent (1093 to 832) and 14 per cent (832 to 715) in 2004 and 2005. Other aspects of the trends in violence include:
The demands of various groups engaged in violence in the Northeast have varied from autonomy to secession. In view of the nature of the violence in the region, exacerbated by external manipulation and support, the society and politics of the region have been victims of a sustained culture of violence. This culture of violence has assumed an autonomy of its own and entrenched a subversive pattern of politics across the region.
The militant groups operating across the Northeast have usually found refuge and safe haven in neighbouring countries, principally Bangladesh and Myanmar. Fencing along the 4,095 kilometre-long border with Bangladesh, suggested as a remedy to the problem of militancy, has not been completed and militants have easy routes to access and exit their area of operation. Similarly, a number of militant organisations in Nagaland, Manipur and Assam take shelter in Myanmar, which shares a 1,643 kilometre-long porous boundary with India. On September 16, 2006, during the Home Secretary-level talks with Myanmar at New Delhi, India provided a list of 15 camps of the ULFA, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and the Khaplang and Isak-Muivah factions of the NSCN, on Myanmarese territory.
None of the major militant groups in Manipur has shown any inclination to eschew violence. Instead, militancy acquired a new impetus on August 16, 2006, when unidentified terrorists bombed the crowded Krishna Janmashtami celebration (a festival that marks the birth of Lord Krishna) held at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple complex in capital Imphal, killing six civilians, including two children, while over 50 others, including five Americans and two French nationals, were wounded. This was the first major attack on a place of worship in the history of the militancy in the State. Talking to reporters at the Leimakhong Army Headquarters in Imphal on September 19, 2006, the General Officer Commanding of the 57 Mountain Division, Major General E. J. Kochekkan, stated that insurgency in Manipur is more complex than in Jammu and Kashmir and that “Unlike in Jammu and Kashmir, where most ultras were from foreign territory, insurgents in Manipur are from its own territory, making it tougher to deal with them.”
In Assam, the ULFA continues its subversive agenda targeting SF personnel and civilians, bombing markets, oil and gas pipelines and various State establishments and installations. The peace initiative to facilitate direct talks between the ULFA and Union Government has remained a non-starter. The Union Government suspended Army operations against ULFA on August 13, 2006. However, the “suspension of operation” was called off on September 24, following continued violations of the truce by the militant group. The final provocation came when ULFA killed a tea estate manager, Harendranath Das, at Digboi town in the Tinsukia District on September 23. A day earlier, a policeman was shot dead at Than Gaon village in the Dibrugarh District. On September 24, one ULFA cadre was killed, while three soldiers were wounded during an encounter at Majmamoroni Gaon in Tinsukia District. The slain ULFA cadre was suspected to have been involved in the killing of Harendranath Das on September 23.
In Nagaland, the two NSCN factions continue to train their guns against each other, but barring this fratricidal war, the State is relatively calm. 2006 has already seen 61 incidents of factional clashes in Nagaland (till October 6) in which at least 55 militants were been killed – 32 of the NSCN-IM, 17 of the NSCN-K and three of the Naga National Council (NNC), and three unidentified. These incidents occurred primarily in the Zunheboto, Peren and Phek Districts.
Tripura, in the meanwhile, is carving out a success story in its counter-insurgency campaign, as its Police force reorganizes radically to evolve a counter-insurgency strategy that has left entrenched militant groups in disarray.
In Meghalaya, counter-insurgency operations have marginalized the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) to a great extent. Following the cease-fire agreement between the Government and Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and the subsequent confinement of the ANVC cadres in designated camps, the Garo Hills in Meghalaya has been relatively peaceful.
The major incidents of militant violence in the Northeast in 2006 include:
Significant counter-insurgency operations yielded:
Pursuant to the Government of India’s policy of engaging with any group that abjures the path of violence and seeks resolution of their grievances within the framework of the Indian Constitution, several militant groups have came forward for talks with the Government. One of the important outcomes of Government-initiated peace talks with some of the insurgent groups has been the decisive decline in the numbers of militancy-related fatalities. Presently, at least six militant groups have entered into a ceasefire / suspension of operations agreement with the Union Government: NSCN-IM and NSCN-K in Nagaland; Dima Halim Daogah (DHD), United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in Assam; and ANVC in Meghalaya. The ULFA-constituted People’s Consultative Group (PCG) of Assam held three rounds of talks with representatives of the Union Government to bring the outfit to the negotiating table. However, these efforts have now decisively ended as the PCG pulled out of the peace process on September 27, 2006, as its members claimed that the Centre was “backing out from the commitments made during the last three rounds of talks with us.” The Government has been insisting that ULFA provide a written commitment that it was ready to hold direct talks with the Centre and that the top leadership of the outfit would participate in these. This was one of the conditions the Government wanted to be fulfilled for the release of five ULFA leaders (Pradip Gogoi, Bhimkanta Buragohain, Mithinga Daimary, Pranati Deka and Ramu Mech) from jail, as demanded by the outfit.
In Manipur, the Union Government managed to arrive at ‘cessation of hostility’ accords with eight minor Kuki militant groups in September 2005, but major outfits like the UNLF and PLA have not displayed any willingness to engage in negotiations. Indeed, the Chairman of the UNLF, Sanayaima, in an interview with Reuters in Hong Kong on September 14, 2005, ruled out negotiations with the Union Government without United Nations mediation. Sanayaima stated, “Whether we remain with India or whether we become a sovereign, independent nation, let the people decide. Considering India is the largest democracy in the world, I think they should accept the challenge.” A ‘plebiscite’ is a major demand of the UNLF. Similarly, PLA President Irengbam Chaoren, in a message on the occasion of its 28th raising day on September 25, ruled out accepting the Union Government’s offer for peace talks, saying that entering into a dialogue with New Delhi would not ‘restore freedom’.
Nevertheless, talking to reporters in Imphal on October 1, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh ruled out a full-fledged military offensive against militant groups operating in the State, saying that his Government was trying to establish contact with leaders of these organisations to bring them to the negotiating table: “We believe that one day the leaders of these armed groups will realise the futility of violence. It may take some time but they will surely accept our offer for talks.”
In many cases, however, the process of dialogue with militant groups is yet to yield tangible solutions. The high-profile nine-year-old peace talks involving the NSCN-IM and Union Government have so far been unable to arrive at any major breakthrough to resolve the decades-old Naga conflict. Militant groups, on the contrary, have taken advantage of these long-drawn ‘peace talks’ and continued with rampant extortion and intimidation with impunity. Endless fratricidal clashes between well armed rival cadres have turned their respective ceasefires into a ‘public mockery’. Talking to reporters in Kohima on September 22, 2006, the Inspector General of Assam Rifles (North), Major General S.S. Kumar, stated that the NSCN-IM has been consolidating its strength and position, taking advantage of the ongoing truce. “The ceasefire is giving the NSCN an opportunity to consolidate. We have conveyed our concern to the Ministry of Home Affairs.” He disclosed, further, “Earlier, there were about 800 cadre of the NSCN-IM. Of late, the figure ranges between 2,000 to 2,500.”
Similarly, since they entered into a formal cease-fire on May 25, 2005, at least 27 cases of extortion had been filed against NDFB cadres till July 10, 2006, and 63 of its cadres had also been arrested in connection with several cases.
Nevertheless, there are signs of a gradual return to peace, if not ‘normalcy’ in wide areas of the Northeast, and this creates enormous opportunities for political and developmental initiatives to restore this long unsettled region to a measure of civilized governance. Regrettably, the oft-promised ‘peace dividend’ has seldom materialized, as political parties and Governments remain trapped in a culture of violence and subversive relationships. Even Mizoram, which has seen an unbroken peace since 1986, is yet to taste the fruits of the ‘peace dividend’. Development, modernisation and a measure of efficiency in governance are the central challenges of policy, as violence slowly retreats in India’s Northeast.
The Reality of War
On September 22, 2006, National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan conveyed to the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA)-backed People’s Consultative Group (PCG) member Indira Goswami, that the Union Government will not extend the suspension of counter-insurgency (CI) operations against the outfit in Assam. The subsequent official announcement of September 24 declaring resumption of CI operations against the ULFA drew down the curtain on a year-long process in which both the government and the outfit were, at best, reluctant partners. The tardy and laborious experiment, which at no point of time, in its year-long existence, demonstrated any signs of success, did, however, end up reinforcing a dwindling ULFA. The period of consolidation under the umbrella of the peace process now leaves ULFA fully capable of keeping the security forces (SFs) busy through the coming winter and beyond.
On August 13, 2006, the Government announced a unilateral ceasefire with ULFA, confining the SFs to barracks. Prior to that, in September 2005, after the ULFA formed the PCG, to prepare the groundwork for dialogue with the Government, New Delhi called off a tactically important operation in upper Assam’s Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, when the Army had surrounded key ULFA functionaries of the ‘28th Battalion’. The cadres were simply allowed to escape. Amidst objections expressed by the Army, who believed that the group was exploiting the truce to reinforce, no operations of strategic consequence were undertaken by the SFs after September 2005, as New Delhi hoped to wean ULFA away from violence through its magnanimity. ULFA, however, continued to attack, kill and extort without pause.
The abandonment of the ceasefire provoked another escalation of ULFA violence, commencing on September 22, 2006, when ULFA terrorists killed a policeman at Than Gaon village in the Dibrugarh District. Thereafter, ULFA cadres have targeted SF personnel, religious gatherings, oil pipelines, tea estates, public places and civilians.
Army intelligence has intercepted several directives from ULFA leaders to their cadres asking them to target the security forces in the State. In fact, most of the strikes by the ULFA, after September 22, have been against the SF personnel. All attacks, between September 22 and October 7, have taken place in the five upper Assam Districts, Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Tinsukia, Dhemaji and Lakhimpur. Tinsukia has been the target of eight out of the total 16 attacks, Dibrugarh accounted for four attacks, Sibsagar recorded two incidents on October 7, and Dhemaji and Lakhimpur have witnessed one attack each. Six persons, including three civilians and two ULFA cadres, have been killed and over 50 persons have been injured in these incidents. Most of these attacks have an unmistakable ULFA signature on them, involving the use of hand grenades of Chinese make. At least on one occasion (September 24), ULFA cadres challenged an Army patrol causing injuries to six Army personnel. On five occasions, ULFA terrorists have targeted police personnel. On October 7 in Sibsagar and on October 5 in Dibrugarh, the outfit used improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
It is now certain that the rendezvous with the PCG that resulted in the initial slow down and eventual halt of the SF operations, provided the ULFA the opportunity to intensify recruitment and training. Intelligence inputs indicate that in the pre-PCG formation period, ULFA had been constrained to cut down training to just about a month due to continuous tactical demands. An estimated 200 trained cadres comprised the core of the outfit, which was assessed at a total strength of 500 cadres before the peace experiment. While hard estimates are unavailable, intelligence confirms significant recruitment in several Districts during the ceasefire period.
ULFA is also known to have set up an unspecified number of new camps in the Sagaing Division of Myanmar. A few camps are also reported to have come up in Bhutan, although both Indian and Bhutanese defence officials have denied their existence. There have been new additions to the group’s traditional transit routes to Myanmar through Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. These will be vital for ULFA’s operations in the Upper Assam Districts. Similarly, given the fact that there is relative peace in the Garo Hills in neighbouring Meghalaya, ULFA’s transit routes to Bangladesh have remained undisturbed. Such routes have always come into use, when the Group’s cadres have launched operations in the lower Assam areas, including capital Dispur and adjoining Guwahati.
Recent attacks have involved the use of bi-cycles and motorcycles by ULFA, and there is evidence that its cadres, most of whom had been pushed out of Assam to neighbouring States and beyond, have again infiltrated into the small towns and villages of the Upper Assam region, completely neutralizing the gains of past SF efforts. In the first week of October, intelligence sources indicated that 25 ULFA cadres, most of them belonging to the outfit’s ‘28th Battalion’, had taken shelter in various upper Assam Districts. They include hardcore elements such as Jiban Moran, Jiten Dutta, Probal Neog, Bijoy Chinese, Ujjal Gohain, Poresh Majhi, Jun Bhuyan, Rubul Sarma, Pranjal Saikia, Dibakar Moran and Aagan Barua. Each of them is believed to be equipped with assault rifles, explosives and a range of communication gadgets. Reports on October 8 also indicated the entry of ULFA ‘commander’ Drishti Rajkhowa into Guwahati city with a few of his accomplices. Over the coming days, ULFA can be expected to add a punch to its attacks, since these would be executed by cadres who have had opportunity to stay put in the target areas, and have had far greater opportunities for familiarization and planning than would be the case with cadres in transit. As time passes, ULFA cadres can be expected to fan out into other Districts in order to widen the area of conflict. There is also little doubt that the sustained infiltration over the past year would also have augmented ULFA’s intelligence network.
ULFA’s capacities to orchestrate attacks on a long-term basis would, however, be dependant on the scale and intensity of SF operations. Army operations, in the post-September 22 period have focussed on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh-Myanmar borders. Operations have targeted six Districts, including three in upper Assam (Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Jorhat) and three in lower Assam (Baska, Nalbari and Barpeta). On September 26, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced its plans to step up vigilance along the Indo-Bhutan border. It decided to raise seven additional Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) battalions and open 132 new Border Outposts (BOPs) in the region. Currently five SSB battalions guard the 643-kilometre Indo-Bhutan border touching Assam, West Bengal, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. According to the announcement, five new battalions will be raised by November 2006 and two more in 2007.
In the last week of September 2006, Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt undertook a two-day trip to Myanmar, initiating a round of transfer of military equipment consisting of unspecified numbers of T-55 tanks, armoured personal carriers, 105-mm light artillery guns, mortars and the locally designed advanced light helicopters. A major objective of this exercise was to secure Myanmar’s efforts to launch assaults on camps of the militants operating in India’s Northeast, including those of the ULFA. Subsequently, unconfirmed media reports on October 4 indicated the launching of operations by the Myanmarese Army in the Sagaing division across Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, targeting newly set up camps of the ULFA and its long time partner, the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K). However, NSCN-K sources, on October 5, only indicated Myanmarese Army ‘preparations’ to attack the militant camps. Secrecy and confusion have always shrouded such operations and, over the years, such exercises have proved to be of merely transitory value, and have failed to uproot the militants from their safe havens in Myanmar.
It is a pity that ill-founded political considerations continue to overshadow strategic concerns in the CI campaign in the Northeast, undermining SF operations and creating opportunities for insurgent consolidation. The PCG episode has been a resounding and entirely predictable failure, but it would still serve a purpose if Governments can learn something from this unfortunate experience and avoid such farcical dalliances in future. Regrettably, the political leadership has tended to remain quite stubbornly resistant to such an education.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
October 2-8, 2006
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Militants kill 13 Railway Protection Force personnel in Assam: At least 13 Railway Protection Force personnel were killed by in an ambush by the Black Widow faction of the Dima Halim Daogah (DHD) group in the North Cachar Hills district of Assam on October 6, 2006. A Railway team of 20 personnel was proceeding in four vehicles beyond Mandaksa railway station for inspection work when the militants ambushed it. The first two vehicles managed to slip away but the militants, who were on a hilltop, ambushed the remaining two killing all the occupants. According to an official report, there was an encounter and the militants took away the weapons of the railway security men. Meanwhile, DHD ‘chairman’ Dileep Nunisa condemned the incident saying the anti-talk and anti-peace force had been trying to derail the process by creating violence. The Black Widow faction of the DHD is against the holding of peace talks with the Government unlike the Nunisa faction of the group, which is currently observing a truce. Tribune India, October 7, 2006.
Seven police personnel, a civilian and two terrorists killed in suicide squad attack in Srinagar: Five Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) personnel, two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers, two terrorists and one civilian were killed when terrorists launched a suicide squad attack on the CRPF headquarters in the business hub of Budshah Chowk in capital Srinagar on October 4, 2006. At least 30 persons sustained injuries, even as over 200 people were successfully evacuated. Director General of JKP, Gopal Sharma, said that the 27-hour-long operation ended with a toll of 10 human lives after both of the terrorists, who occupied the second floor of New Standard Hotel for about 20 hours, were shot dead by Police and CRPF. A spokesman of the Al-Mansoorian group, Aamir Mir, identified the two terrorists killed as Tariq Ahmed Bhat and Mohammad Mushtaq. Daily Excelsior, October 6, 2006.
Pakistanis financed terrorist attacks
across India, says Delhi Police:
Investigations into the October 29, 2005,
bomb blasts in Delhi have shown that 37
Pakistani nationals were financing terrorist
networks across India. “Thirty-seven people
– all residents of Pakistan and active
members of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba
– funded many operations in India, which
involved heavy loss of life and property,”
reads a Delhi Police Special Cell charge-sheet
on the blasts in which 59 people died
and 155 were wounded. Huge amounts of
money through, Hawala and foreign remittances,
were sent to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)
operative and blast accused Tariq Ahmed
Dar's accounts in Delhi and Srinagar from
these 37 sources to fund terrorist strikes,
especially the Delhi blasts, the police
claimed. Security agencies are reportedly
studying the probability that the same
sources had funded the July 11, 2006,
serial blasts in Mumbai. Dar had disclosed
to the police that the flow of funds from
Pakistan was controlled by Abu Ozefa,
a Pakistani national and ‘divisional commander’
of the LeT, who was killed in Kashmir,
the charge-sheet says.
October 3, 2006.
Maoist chief Prachanda warns of “new form of people’s revolt”: Addressing a training programme for district level Maoist leaders at Jalbire in the Sindhupalchowk District, Maoist chairman Prachanda said the insurgents were preparing for a “new form of people's revolt strong enough to capture Kathmandu and the state power.” The people’s revolt will be led by local Newars [Newars are the original inhabitants of Nepal. They are primarily concentrated in the Kathmandu Valley], he said. He claimed that, had the April 2006 uprising not been withdrawn for another five days, Nepal would have already become a republican state by now. As the seven parties failed to go for a republic in April, Maoists are preparing for another revolt to achieve this objective, he added. Nepal News, October 4, 2006.
29 people killed in sectarian violence in NWFP: At least 29 people are reported to have died during four days of sectarian violence in the Kalaya area of Lower Orakzai Agency in North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The Ahl-e-Sunnat (Sunni) and Shia sects are fighting over the control of the disputed Mian Anwar shrine. While two persons were killed on October 2, 2006, another eight died in clashes on October 4, while 19 people were killed in an exchange of mortar fire between the two sects on October 5. Dawn, Daily Times, October 2-6, 2006.
Afghan suicide bombers brainwashed in Pakistan, says Afghan intelligence: Would-be suicide bombers detained in Afghanistan claim they have been brainwashed and equipped by Arab, Chechen and Uzbek militants in Pakistan, the Afghan intelligence service said on October 4, 2006. The claims were from 17 attackers who were arrested in the past month before they had the chance to strike, Sayed Ansari, the spokesman for the Afghan National Directorate of Security said. “All of the detained have confessed they received training for suicide attacks, attacks against schools and institutions from Arab, Chechen and Uzbek instructors on the other side of the border (Pakistan),” said Ansari. He said illiterate people, those with a poor religious education or from deprived backgrounds, were being “brainwashed” in Pakistani training camps across the border and sent to Afghanistan. “They focus on religious feelings of people, show them made-up videos of coalition forces in Afghanistan, preach that Islam is in danger in Afghanistan and the government does not have control, to make them ready for their inauspicious attempts,” he said. He added that the would-be bombers trained at Shamshatoo, an Afghan refugee camp near Peshawar, and at another camp near Data Khel in North Waziristan tribal region. However, Pakistan military spokesperson, Maj. Gen Shaukat Sultan, said Pakistan had no information on the 17 arrests. Daily Times, October 5, 2006.
US ask India to stop blaming Pakistan for Mumbai blasts: The United States on October 3, 2006, advised India not to blame Pakistan for the Mumbai blasts without certain proof and suggested that New Delhi should resolve the issue through a ‘direct contact’ with Islamabad. “India should communicate with Pakistan by having direct contact instead of talking about the Mumbai train blasts in the public,” US Ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan C. Crocker, told a news conference in Islamabad. He also said the United States wanted Indian and Pakistani Governments to discuss all the issues between them, including the Kashmir dispute, to normalise their relations. Dawn, October 4, 2006.
In response, the spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said on October 5, 2006: "We have seen the remarks attributed to Ambassador Crocker. Coming from a democracy like United States, one would have expected Ambassador Crocker to understand that democratic governments have a primary responsibility to keep their own people fully informed."
Lashkar-e-Toiba issues fatwa to kill Pope Benedict XVI: The Jama’at-ud-Da’awa, political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), is reported to have issued a fatwa (edict) calling upon Muslims to kill Pope Benedict XVI for his September 12, 2006-speech, where he quoted a remark reportedly made by a Byzantine emperor in 1391 during a conversation with an unnamed Persian scholar, which gave the impression that the Byzantine emperor tended to identify Islam with violence. A report on the fatwa, carried by the Pakistani journal Ausaf in its September 18, 2006-edition, says: “Pakistan's Jama’at-ud-Da’awa has issued a fatwa asking the Muslim community to kill Pope Benedict for his blasphemous statement about Prophet Mohammad.” The leaders of the Jamaat were reportedly speaking at a Martyrs' Islamic Conference in Karachi. Rediff, October 4, 2006.
52 LTTE cadres and two Army personnel killed in clashes in Eastern province: 52 cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were killed in heavy clashes between the Army and LTTE in the Eastern province, the military claimed on October 7, 2006. Military spokesperson Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said, “We have recovered 12 Tamil Tiger bodies while soldiers had observed 40 others in front of our defence line.” Two soldiers were also killed during the operation. Samarasinghe said LTTE cadres launched an attack on a military camp in Mankerni in Batticaloa District on October 6-morning. The Army, supported by fighter helicopters, repulsed the attack, but exchange of artillery and mortar fire continued throughout the day. NDTV, October 7, 2006.
Peace talks to be held in Switzerland on October 28-29: Peace talks between the Sri Lanka Government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will be held on October 28-29, 2006, in Switzerland. The Secretariat for Co-coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) in a statement released on October 5 stated, "The Government of Sri Lanka, having considered the message conveyed to it by the Norwegian facilitator that the LTTE is agreeable to resume talks, has accommodated the suggestion to hold talks on October 28 and 29 in Switzerland," adding that it informed the facilitators that, consistent with its repeated commitment made at the highest levels of its willingness to engage in discussions to resolve the conflict, it proposes to engage in a discussion of substantive issues with the LTTE with a view to obtaining a permanent solution. SCOPP has repeatedly and sincerely requested the LTTE to return to the negotiations and the LTTE has consistently refused to do so without giving reason and “Instead, the LTTE, in the course of a campaign of violence lasting months, has committed blatant violations of its own commitments,” the statement added further. SCOPP also indicated to the Norwegian facilitators that “if at any time the LTTE undertook actions of an offensive and provocative nature, the Government reserves the right to take countermeasures in the interests of national security.” Colombo Page, October 6, 2006.