SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
On January 19, 2007, the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) captured Vakarai Town in Batticaloa District from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It was the largest LTTE stronghold in the East and functioned as a crucial base for the outfit, linking the North with the East. Vakarai is a strategically significant coastal strip providing sea bases to the LTTE. By controlling this area, the LTTE had, thus far, secured a free run in the smuggling of arms and narcotics into Sri Lanka and the neighbouring East Asian countries.
Advancing SLA troops reportedly reached Kadiraveli Town, 11-km North of Vakarai, overcoming stiff resistance from LTTE cadres and also captured the rebel’s Kottalamadu base. As in the case of Sampur in 2006, initially the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) launched aerial attacks on the LTTE strongholds in the region. On November 6, 2006, Israeli-built SLAF Kfir jets completely destroyed a LTTE Sea-Tiger base at Palachchenai in the North of Vakarai. On January 17, 2007, SLAF Kfir jets struck LTTE posts at Vakarai inflicting heavy casualties. The Special Task Force (STF), in the meanwhile, had launched a campaign on January 4, 2007, called Niyathai Jaya (Sure Victory), aimed at clearing LTTE bases in Ampara, indicating a clear multi-pronged attack by the troops. On January 11, the STF captured the outfit’s Janak camp and six other camps at Kanchjudichcharu in the Ampara District. A day earlier, STF had captured the Stanley Base, the largest LTTE camp in Ampara. The capture of Stanley and Janak camps was a strategic victory that eliminated the LTTE threat posed to security forces camps in the East. Further, the STF also took control of a LTTE women’s wing camp – Nalini Base – in Kanchikudichchiaru on January 16. "There was evidence that Nalini Base was a training and detention camp. It has also been used as a factory turning out weapons and ammunition," a senior military official disclosed, adding that LTTE camps such as Stanley, Paramananda, Bagayadhi, Janak, Jeevan, Diana, Shashi, Eleththiyan, Eleivan, Aridevan, Madurakavi and Raam were captured by the STF during its offensive launched on January 4, 2007.
An immediate consequence of this is that the troops now control the A-15 National Highway, which links Batticaloa with the Trincomalee District. The loss of Vakarai will cut off supply routes of the Northern Tigers to their cadres in the East, further weakening the LTTE grip in the East. After the ouster of LTTE from Vakarai, the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapakse, declared, "It is because of their (the SLA’s) noble sacrifice that 95 per cent of the civilians in the Eastern Province are now being able to enjoy freedom, democratic rights and to live without fear. Let us ensure that the whole nation will be free from the horrors of terrorism so that their sacrifice will never go in vain."
The capture of Vakarai is the manifestation of what the SLA Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka had vowed on January 2, 2007: that the Army would liberate the Eastern Province from the LTTE's hold and then proceed to liberating the Northern Province. At that time, the Army Commander had claimed that the LTTE would be eradicated from the East within the ensuing two to three months, adding, "After eradicating the Tigers from the East, full strength would be used to rescue the North." Earlier, on December 14, 2006, military spokesperson, Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe, had told Reuters, "We want to get the LTTE out of this area and free the civilians… We will control most of the coastline in the east," referring to a 14-mile (22-km) stretch of coast in the eastern Districts of Trincomalee and Batticaloa.
Although Defence Affairs spokesperson, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, stated on January 6, 2007, that the Government has no intention of launching an offensive to capture areas under LTTE control and that the clashes are merely "retaliatory", in reaction to the outfit’s attacks, with the capture of Sampur and now Vakarai, it is quite evident that the Government will go for an all out attack against the weakening LTTE to secure territorial gains. It appears that the Sri Lankan leadership has realised that any solution to the long-standing ethnic conflict can only be achieved from a position of strength in terms of geography, i.e., areas under Government control. The recent Maoist ‘triumph’ in neighbouring Nepal is a glaring example for the Rajapakse Government of how important territorial control is to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and integrity. Indeed, the retreat of the state in many of the insurgencies in South Asia is largely due to the loss control over significant territories.
The February 2002 cease-fire agreement left large tracts of territory in the North and East under the control of the LTTE. The Government retained control of the key towns of Jaffna, Trincomalee and Batticaloa, but most of the interior in the North, including Wanni and extensive rural areas, were designated ‘LTTE areas’, or as the Government termed them, "uncleared areas". This had severely curtailed Government’s control over the region and emboldened the LTTE to take a hard line in the ‘peace talks’.
Recent events have done much to bolster the Government’s perception of its strength, both militarily and politically. Colombo has secured significant advantages on the ground after its successes in Mavilaru, Muttur, Muhamalai, Sampur and Jaffna, and now in Vakarai and Kadiraveli. With the temporary de-merger of the North and East Province, coming into effect from January 1, 2007, the Government will try to strengthen its administrative prowess in the Northern Province in order to establish the Northern Provincial Council Secretariat in the North, which will, as of now, officiate from Trincomalee on the same lines as the Eastern Provincial Council Secretariat does in the East.
The Government is expected to consolidate its position further by establishing better administrative control over the North and East, having realized, moreover, that international opinion is now largely in its favour. With the European Union ban on LTTE in May 2006 and continuous assurances from countries like the United States, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand on helping in control LTTE’s arms procurement and fund raising, the Government can afford to go for an all out offensive.
Critical to Colombo’s current strategy is support from the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP), the irregular militia of Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias ‘Colonel’ Karuna. The military has gained immensely vis-à-vis local intelligence of the breakaway LTTE leader, and the ‘Karuna factor’ has been critical in the East. In 2006, 922 LTTE cadres were killed in the three Eastern Districts, including 519 in Trincomalee and 348 in Batticaloa. The Karuna faction, after breaking ranks with the LTTE in April 2004, has also killed several senior LTTE leaders in the East. These included Kaushalyan, the former LTTE eastern political wing leader and the highest-ranking LTTE leader to be killed in the factional violence since the truce, who was shot dead in February 2005. A senior LTTE leader, ‘Major’ Shankar, who was responsible for collecting extortion funds from Tamil civilians in the Batticaloa region, and a top LTTE intelligence agent ‘Dileep’, were also killed by troops during the clash at Wandaramullai in Batticaloa on January 14.
For the first time since the 2002 truce, Sri Lankan troops have initiated an aggressive military strategy to force the LTTE out of areas under its control. The recapture of Sampur, held by the LTTE since 1997, was a crucial preliminary success in this context. Further reverses inflicted on the LTTE at Mavil Aru, Muttur, Muhamalai, and Panichchankerni boosted the military’s morale, as the outfit was clearly pushed onto the defensive. Colonel R. Hariharan had noted that, over the years, LTTE took advantage of its presence in areas like Sampur, Muttur East and Mavil Aru, to interfere with naval operations and dominate the operation of the Trincomalee Harbour. Security Forces evicted the LTTE from these areas and confined it to a small pocket in Vakarai after a series of military operations. The Army’s sustained pressure in Sampur forced the LTTE to regroup in the Vakarai area and by September 3, 2006, the LTTE had reportedly removed its artillery from Sampur to safer places in the Vakarai-Verugal area.
Continuing its strategy of evicting the LTTE from its strongholds, the SLA launched military operations in Vakarai in early November 2006. Clearly anticipating the SLA movement, the LTTE had, from early October 2006, begun disrupting civilian life, primarily by converting the civilian-populated areas into battle zones, or, as one commentator expressed it, the "terrorists forcibly occupied civilian homes and converted these into bunkers." The Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) reported that 45 Army soldiers were killed during the humanitarian missions carried out in the Eastern Province to liberate civilians from the control of the LTTE since October 2006. According to MCNS sources, at least 331 LTTE cadres were killed and a large number wounded during the mission to liberate Vakarai.
Following the Sampur loss, the LTTE political head, S.P. Tamilselvan, had warned that the Sinhala population would soon have to face ‘the consequences’ of the ongoing clashes, adding, "the international community should not behave any differently when, as a consequence of Government action on Tamil people, Sinhala people face the same fate in the future." The escalation of LTTE activities after the loss of Sampur is illustrated by the following significant incidents:
October 16, 2006: At least 98 sailors of the Navy were killed and 100 injured as suspected LTTE cadres rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a naval convoy at Digampatana in the Habarana area of Matale District.
October 18, 2006: Suspected LTTE cadres carried out a suicide mission on the Dakshina Naval Base in Galle. Troops, however, successfully repulsed the attack, killing 15 LTTE cadres, while one sailor also died in the incident. Another 15 sailors and 14 civilians were injured in the confrontation.
November 9, 2006: The SLN personnel foiled a major LTTE attack on the civilian passenger vessel 'Green Ocean I', with 300 Jaffna-bound civilian passengers from Trincomalee, in the sea off Nagarkovil, destroying a flotilla of Sea-Tiger boats, including three suicide boats.
December 1, 2006: A suicide attack by the LTTE targeting the Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is also the brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, at Dharmapala Mawatha in Colombo injured seven Army personnel and seven civilians. Two of the Army personnel subsequently succumbed to their injuries. The suicide bomber rammed his three-wheeler into the convoy of the Defence Secretary, who was en route to the Presidential Palace for an official meeting. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, however, escaped unhurt.
January 5, 2007: At least six passengers were killed and 63 injured in a bomb blast inside a bus bound for Giriulla from Nittambuwa in the Gampaha District.
January 6, 2007: At least 16 persons were killed and 40 others wounded as a second explosion occurred in a bus within a span of less than 24 hours in the Galle District, over 80 kilometres from the national capital, Colombo.
In the aftermath of the Vakarai loss, the LTTE claimed that it had "decided to pull back" from its Pannichchankerni position, which is on the access route to Vakarai. LTTE spokesman, Rasiah Ilantherayan, admitted that Sri Lankan forces had moved into some outfit-held areas in Ampara, stating, "Off course they made advances into our territory in Ampara, but then in Ampara we operate in a guerrilla mode," adding, that they were continually on the move. Earlier, on September 4, 2006, following the Sampur loss, Ilantheriyan had announced that LTTE cadres were "tactically withdrawing" from Sampur Town. Sampur still remains with the Army and new territories are gradually falling to the state’s Forces.
Nevertheless, while the LTTE may have suffered a setback or, in its own language, may have ‘tactically withdrawn’ from some areas, its abiding lethality cannot be ignored. The outfit continues to have the wherewithal to hit back strongly, as was clearly witnessed in attacks after the Military recapture of Sampur. More importantly, the LTTE has the intent and capacity to carry out terrorist attacks even in the capital, Colombo. Defence authorities have reportedly requested the public to be more vigilant about sleeper LTTE cadres living outside the North and East, who are expected to be preparing for major attacks targeting sensitive economic or military centres in the South, especially in the Western Province. A senior Defence Ministry official stated, on January 1, 2007, that the troops had recovered 60 claymore mines and 132 hand grenades from ‘non-operational areas’ in 2006, indicating that the LTTE was planning to intensify attacks in the South.
Notwithstanding the fact that the LTTE retains the prowess to hit back, it will be immensely difficult for it to ‘reclaim’ territories it has lost over the past six to eight months. That the outfit has weakened considerably is corroborated by the MNCS release of January 4, 2007, which states that the LTTE faces a severe recruitment problem to fill deficit in its fighting cadres which has arisen due to heavy losses sustained in Mavil Aru, Muhamalai, Thoppur, Sampur, Muttur Jetty and Vakarai. The Eastern Province, the former resource pool that helped fill the gaps arising from their dead and wounded, is now almost completely closed. Between December 1, 2005, and December 28, 2006, the LTTE reportedly lost 2,108 cadres and with even larger numbers injured, according to MCNS. The fatalities alone are estimated to be over 25 per cent of the group’s total armed strength.
The LTTE has clearly been substantially impaired by the current military campaigns. What remains to be seen is, on the one hand, the scale and character of its retaliatory actions and, on the other, the persistence of the Government’s determination to continue with operations. If there is any temptation to allow operations to flag in the foreseeable future, and to restore the untenable ‘peace process’ of the recent past, this would give the rebels the space they need to recover and regroup, jeopardizing the significant, but still limited, gains secured by the Army.
With 33 militancy related fatalities in 2006, North Cachar (NC) Hills remains the third most conflict-ridden District in Assam, behind Kamrup and Tinsukia which are principally afflicted by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) insurgency. Most of Assam’s 27 Districts have been affected by militant violence in different degrees, although 11 of these recorded no militancy-related fatality in 2006. Such ‘peaceful’ Districts were, however, marked by various other manifestations of militant activity, such as abductions, extortion and the emergence of new militant outfits, indicating a gross erosion of the State’s capacity to ensure security to its citizens. The pattern of violence, however, has been the most consistent and complex in the NC Hills District.
NC Hills, which has 7 per cent of Assam’s population (186,189, according to the 2001 Census), and 6.24 per cent of the State’s land mass, accounted for 19 per cent of all militancy-related fatalities in Assam, which totaled 174 (according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal database) in 2006. 14 civilians, 13 security force (SF) personnel and 6 militants were killed in militancy-related violence in the District. Significantly, 37 per cent of total SF fatalities in Assam were reported from the NC Hills.
The NC Hills were declared a District in February 1970, and this presently consists of two Sub-divisions: Haflong (headquarters) and Maibang, divided into four Police Station jurisdictions: Haflong, Mahur, Maibang, and Umrangso. The District is inhabited by several tribes such as Dimasa, Zemi Naga, Hmar, Kuki, Biate, Hrangkhol, Karbi, Khelma, Jaintia and Vaiphei. Nearly 13 per cent of the District, spread over 4,890 square kilometers, is forested, while 80 per cent of the land falls under the ‘non-agricultural barren land’ category. The District is sparsely populated with a population density of 38 per square kilometre. District headquarters Haflong is 368 kilometres away from Dispur, the State capital.
The ‘remoteness’ of the NC Hills – its distance from the centre of governance, the underdevelopment of transport links, and consequent inaccessibility – has been its bane. While NC Hills has witnessed the spillover effect of the State’s ‘mainstream’ militancies, such as ULFA, since 1995, it has been the centre of activities by the militants of the Dima Halim Daogah (DHD), which broke away from the relatively less prominent Dima National Security Force (DNSF) in 1995. Formed with the objective of carving out a separate autonomous homeland (Dimaraji) for the Dimasa tribe, the DHD has been a potent outfit, engaged in widespread subversion and violence in the District.
Hopes raised by a January 1, 2003, ceasefire between the DHD and the Union Government were quickly dispelled with the formation of the Black Widow, when a section of the DHD militants, under the leadership of Jewel Garlossa, broke away from the parent outfit on March 31, 2003. While the DHD cadres, led by Dilip Nunisa, have been stationed in the four designated camps set up after the ceasefire came into being, the Black Widow militants have enjoyed a free run in the District and have engaged in periodic violence.
All the 13 SF casualties in the District in 2006 were ascribed to the Black Widow. The outfit also accounted for seven civilian casualties. The ongoing Security Force (SF) operations appeared to have little impact on the Black Widow, as not a single cadre from this group figured in the six militant fatalities recorded in the District in 2006. Black Widow has periodically set up clashes with DHD cadres and has been able to establish an upper hand in the NC Hills. More than half of the militant fatalities in the District have been due to the internecine clashes between the two groups.
The cadre strength of the DHD is estimated at 800, while the Black Widow is estimated to have augmented its numbers to 200 by December 2006. About 24 DHD cadres deserted their designated camp at Dihinga along the NC Hills-Karbi Anglong border in two batches on January 1 and January 3, 2007, to join the Black Widow. These renegades are being kept in the group’s hideouts at Umrangso, Maibang and Mahur in NC Hills. Painarang Dimes, the Black Widow’s ‘finance secretary’, stated that the defection was "meticulously planned" and "brilliantly pulled off" by his group in December 2006. He blamed Nunisa and other leaders of the pro-talks faction of not taking care of their cadres, adding, "The camps are short of food and warm clothes." Meanwhile, Dilip Nunisa, the DHD chief, accused the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) of training Black Widow cadres at Camp Hebron near Dimapur town in Nagaland. Nunisa also accused some "mainstream political parties" of trying to weaken the Dimasa movement for autonomy by encouraging his cadres to desert the DHD.
Activities of the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), an outfit predominantly active in the neighbouring Karbi Anglong District, also overflow into the NC Hills. KLNLF is a breakaway faction of the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), which is under a ceasefire agreement with New Delhi since May 23, 2002. The nature of violence that it engages in has, by and large, focused on abductions and extortion from persons engaged in various development projects in the District. On September 26, 2006, for instance, three employees of a manufacturing enterprise, Vinay Cements Ltd, including its senior manager, Ravi Shankar Thakur, were abducted by cadres belonging to the KLNLF faction from a mining site near Umrangso. While two employees were subsequently released, there have been no further reports regarding their senior colleague.
Abutted by Meghalaya on the west, and Manipur and Nagaland on the east, NC Hills provides a traditional corridor for cross-border migration. NC Hills has historically figured in the overlapping operational area maps of many dominant insurgencies in the region, such as the ULFA, the Mizoram-based Hmar People’s Conference-Democracy (HPC-D) and the Nagaland-based NSCN-IM. In fact, the NC Hills reflects the Northeast in miniature, not only from the perspective of its complex ethnic composition and strategic location, but the patterns of frequent and severe internecine clashes between militant groups organized along ethnic lines.
This trend persisted through year 2006. A school-teacher was killed in an exchange of fire between HPC-D and DHD cadres in the District on February 23, 2006. On June 7, one NSCN-IM militant was killed in an encounter with the paramilitary personnel near Asalu under Maibang police station, following the abduction of four Dimasa youths and their subsequent release at the intervention of Zemi Naga villagers. On June 18, 2006, the dead bodies of three Zemi Naga youth, abducted earlier from Fiding village under Mahur Police Station, were recovered after a month; later, the Zemi Students Union, Assam (ZSU-A), accused and condemned the Dilip Nunisa faction of the DHD for its involvement in the abduction and subsequent killings. On December 13, 2006, a junior engineer of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation was killed during an internecine clash between the Black Widow and DHD at Umrangso. The pattern of militant violence, as reflected in media reportage, indicates that the District has seen a decline in the activities of mainstream groups such as ULFA, over the years. This is understandable in view of the apparent absence of any tactical alliance between ULFA and the local outfits, which make the operation of the ‘outside’ group difficult within the District, where most groups operate on the basis of their ethnic affiliations.
NC Hills has also been subjected to disruption of its developmental programmes and economic activities by militants. On March 30, 2006, Black Widow militants killed a worker engaged by a railway contractor and injured another at Retzole. On July 3, 2006, a trader was killed and several others wounded in a grenade explosion triggered by the Black Widow at a market place in Haflong town. Further, the railway construction work between Lumding in Nagaon and Silchar in Cachar through NC Hills was affected when contractors decided, in September 2006, to suspend construction work due to extortion threats by militants. On September 10, 2006, two labour sheds of the Northeast Frontier Railway’s broad gauge project at Asong Haju and Saron Basti under Mahur Police Station were set ablaze by over 12 Black Widow cadres. The same faction killed 13 Railway Protection Force personnel in an ambush on October 6, 2006. Again on December 7, 2006, three employees of a construction company, Gammon India, were shot at and injured by suspected Black Widow militants at Manigiripur under the Maibang Police Station. Uday Banerjee, the survey engineer, succumbed to his injuries a day later. Finally, on December 17, 2006, at least 5,000 skilled and unskilled construction workers and technical staff, deserted the railway project, following a series of militant attacks.
A cease-fire extension by another year was declared on January 1, 2007, between the Union Government and the DHD. The DHD had also made an offer to provide ‘cover’ to personnel engaged in the railway project against militant attacks, especially by the Black Widow. Development activities have, however, remained paralysed, and the State Government, preoccupied with alternating peace initiatives towards and military operations against ULFA, has chosen to pay scant attention to NC Hills and its woes.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
January 15-21, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Union Defence Minister rules out army action against Naxalites: Defence Minister A.K. Antony on January 15, 2006, ruled out Army involvement in tackling left-wing extremism in the country. Speaking at a reception in New Delhi on the occasion of Army Day, he said, "It is not the job of the Army to tackle the Naxalites (Left-wing extremism). This is something the State Governments have to tackle." He further added, "The Naxalite problem has to be tackled by the State Police forces and the paramilitary forces. At the most, the Army can help with training and providing equipment. But the operations have to be conducted by the States." Antony further said that roughly half of the 1.2 million-strong Indian Army is deployed on counter-insurgency duties. "They are not happy doing this job but they have to because there is no one else to do it. When the Police fails, and the paramilitary fails, the Army is called in. But we can't expect them to tackle Naxalism too." Daily India, January 16, 2007.
to get Deputy Prime Minister's post in the
interim Government: The Communist Party
of Nepal - Maoist
(CPN-M), on January 18, 2007, elected party
spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara as the
leader of the Party in the interim legislature.
Likewise, Dev Gurung was elected as the deputy
leader in the Parliament while Dina Nath Sharma
and Janardan Sharma have been elected as Chief
Whip and Whip, respectively. Earlier, a meeting
of the top leaders of eight parties, on January
17, arrived at an understanding to retain
Subash Chandra Newang of the Communist Party
Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML)
and Chitra Lekha Yadav of the Nepali Congress
- Democratic (NC-D) as Speaker and Deputy
Speaker, respectively, of the Interim Parliament.
It was decided in the meeting that Maoists
would get the post of Deputy Prime Minister
in the interim legislature along with a powerful
ministerial berth. Nepal
News, January 19,
Time to give up armed struggle, says Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq: The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, on January 19, 2007, called for giving up armed struggle to pave the way for fruitful negotiations for a lasting settlement of the Kashmir issue. The Mirwaiz (a hereditary title of one of Kashmir's important religious seats, and also head priest of the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar), who along with other senior leaders of the APHC, is on a visit to Pakistan, stated this after a series of meetings in Islamabad, including talks with President Pervez Musharraf. Dawn, January 20, 2007.
Mullah Omar is hiding in Pakistan under ISI protection, says detained Taliban spokesperson: A detained Taliban spokesperson has said the movement’s fugitive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is hiding out in Pakistan with the protection of that country’s intelligence agency, Afghan intelligence officials said on January 17, 2006. Abul Haq Haqiq, who was known to the media as Mohammad Hanif, was arrested in the eastern province of Nangarhar late on January 15. During interrogation he reportedly said Omar was in the western Pakistan city of Quetta (capital of Balochistan province), the Afghan intelligence agency said in a statement. "He is under the protection of the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] in Quetta," it quoted Hanif as saying. The National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, said the 26-year-old Haqiq had also said the regular suicide attacks in Afghanistan were plotted in a Madrassa (seminary) in Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal area. He also claimed former ISI chief, Hamid Gul, had financed the attacks and showed propaganda videos against the foreign forces in Afghanistan, the NDS statement said. Daily Times, January 18, 2007.
20 militants killed in South Waziristan: Pakistan Army helicopter gun-ships attacked a suspected militant hideout in South Waziristan early on January 16-morning, killing at least 20 militants. Helicopter gun-ships reportedly targeted a cluster of compounds at a village in the Zamzola area, 30km to the east of Razmak in South Waziristan. Officials said that the compounds situated in a desolate area were completely destroyed, killing most of the people inside. "This used to be an Arab-dominated hideout… But as of now, we don't know whether any of them has been killed," one official said. Another official, citing intelligence reports, said some 25 militants had been killed and bodies of eight of them had been retrieved from underneath the rubble. Of the eight, five were stated to be Afghans and three locals from the Kikari Mehsud tribe inhabiting the Ludda sub-district of South Waziristan. Major General Shaukat Sultan, spokesperson for the Pakistan Army, said helicopters attacked the camps after reports of 25 to 30 local and foreign militants there. "I can't give you the exact number of casualties but most of them were believed killed," he said, adding that three of the five camps were destroyed. Dawn, January 17, 2007.
2,000 Pashtun tribesmen rally in Chaman against border control: About 2,000 ethnic Pashtun tribesmen rallied at Chaman in the Balochistan province on January 15, 2006, to condemn the Pakistan Government’s new border control measures. Chanting anti-Pakistan slogans, the protesters asked the Government to abandon its plan to plant mines and build a fence along parts of its frontier with Afghanistan. "These measures are not meant to stop Taliban from entering into Pakistan. These steps are aimed at dividing Pashtuns, who live on both sides of the border," said Sardar Gillani, a leader of the nationalist Awami National Party. "Don’t divide us. Don’t stop us from going to Afghanistan… Don’t stop Afghans from coming here, because they are our brothers and sisters," he said. Daily Times, January 16, 2007.
Army captures LTTE’s Vakarai base: Sri Lankan security forces on January 19, 2007, captured the only Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) stronghold in eastern Sri Lanka – Vakarai – as thousands of civilians fled the area amidst heavy fighting between the two sides. "Following an hour-long effort, the Sri Lanka Army troops finally liberated the Vakarai town and hospital, which was used as an artillery launching pad by the terrorists," a Government statement said. "Since 1996, this town had various problems from the terrorists. However, from early October 2006, Vakarai life was disturbed drastically with the terrorists trying to turn the town into a battlefield. The Army thus launched a rescue mission in early November 2006 and since then closed the gap on the terrorists," it said. Colombo Page, January 20, 2007.
forces inflict large casualties on the
LTTE: Troops in Panichchankerny,
south of Ichchalanpatthu and its suburbs,
in the Batticaloa District, after overrunning
the 3rd defence line of the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),
cleared the village areas, killing at
least 30 LTTE cadres on January 16, 2007,
despite heavy LTTE resistance, reports
Sri Lanka Army (SLA). Troops found the
dead bodies of at least 30 cadres lying
scattered in the area, close to the captured
LTTE defence line in Panichchankerny and
Kadjuwatta areas. In another incident,
troops confronted a group of LTTE cadres
in the Vakarai area of Batticaloa District
on the same day and during subsequent
search operations, seven of them were
killed. Further, at least ten LTTE cadres
were killed and several others were injured
in confrontations with the Security Forces
in two separate incidents on January 19
in the Batticaloa and Trincomalee Districts.
Daily News, January