SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
of an Anxious Peace
A year has passed since the Ceasefire Code of Conduct was signed between the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) and the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) Government on May 25, 2006. The 25-point agreement came after long consultations, and sparked hopes that it would bring an immediate end to the decade long armed insurgency.
The Code of Conduct stipulated that both the parties shall not mobilise, display or use their armed forces in a manner that could spread fear and terror amongst the people; that both parties should not attack or destroy each other’s military or security installations, not lay down mines or ambushes, not recruit new people in one’s military and not spy against each other; that the parties should not organise activities like bandhs (general strikes), transport strikes, obstruction of transportation of essential items, hindering regular development works and functioning of educational institutions; and the return of the seized properties and to co-operation to rehabilitate the Internally Displaced People. The Code also forbade the coercive collection of donations or financial assistance.
Barely a week had passed after the signing of the Code, when the Maoists openly broke it, with armed insurgents turning out in strength in combat gear to exhibit their military might at Prakashpur in the Sunsari District on May 29, 2006, violating clause 2 of the Ceasefire Code of Conduct which says: "Both the parties shall not mobilise, display or use their armed forces in a manner that could spread fear and terror amongst the people."
In utter and sustained disregard of the Code, the Maoists have continued recruitment for their Army in a systematic manner, including the recruitment of children. In September 2006, for instance, it was reported that the Maoists had set up a ‘recruitment centre’ at Sindhiyatol in the Motipur Village Development Committee (VDC) area of Morang District and had already recruited 450 youths for political and military training. They were also running a training camp for the new recruits in the area. In December 2006, it was reported that around 2,000 fresh Maoist recruits had been deployed in different parts of the Chitwan District for the expansion of the party and they were given political training in the Third Division camp at Shaktikhor.
The Maoists’ practice of recruiting underage children into their army has also continued. In a letter to the Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Khadga Bahadur Biswhakarma, Human Rights Watch claimed that, of the 30,000 persons registered at the cantonments set up for the Maoist armed cadres, 20 to 30 percent (6,000-9,000) were children (under 18), and appealed for their immediate release. Nanda Kishore Pun, deputy Maoist Commander, expressed strong objection to the figures provided by Human Rights Watch, but did not explicitly deny the presence of child soldiers in the cantonments. He said, "There might be a few child soldiers in our cantonments but we will solve this issue once the UN starts the second phase of the verification process." Underlining the denial, CPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal @ Prachanda claimed, on November 18, 2006: "We have never taken the policy to recruit children in to our army. But in our army they feed some children whose parents were martyred. We had some cases where we found that some cadres were children. We have returned them to their parents and helped them to get an education."
However, the Report of the United Nations Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Nepal, published in December 2006 documented 154 new incidents of active recruitment of children by the CPN-M from May 2006 to September 2006. A February 2007 report of Human Rights Watch, Children In The Ranks: The Maoists’ Use Of Child Soldiers In Nepal, also noted that the Maoists adopted a variety of techniques for recruiting children, like, kidnapping of individual children, abduction of large groups of children, often from schools or at mass rallies which they are forced to attend, and use of propaganda campaigns to attract children as volunteers. They also use songs, dance, and theatrical performances designed to appeal to children; and children often carry out these performances in order to attract other children.
Further, during the registration of the Maoist combatants a large number of cadres were rejected by the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) on the ground that they were below the age of 18. Also the fact that a number of combatants were registered as 18 year-olds testifies to the fact that they were well below the age of maturity at the time of recruitment by the Maoists. Reports of recruitment of children have come mainly from the Districts of Nawalparasi, Banke, Makwanpur, Chitwan Dolakha, Gorkha, Ilam, Nuwakot, Ramecchap, Kaski, Beglung and Kathmandu.
The Maoists have been involved in the coercive collection of money from the people and vehicles around the country, again a violation of the Ceasefire Code of Conduct. Reports indicate, for instance, a collection of NPR 100 from each tourist visiting the Annapurna region. NPR 85 is charged for each bus, NPR 90 for a truck, NPR 65 for a tractor, NPR 105 for an oil tanker and NPR 35 for a jeep operating in this area. In the Siraha District, the Maoists have been collecting NPR 50 per tractor of sand as ‘extraction fee’ from Gagan, Ghurmi, Mainabakti and Kamala Rivers, and NPR 10 per vehicle as ‘road tax’. In the Bara District, they have placed obstructions on roads at Nijgadh, Simra, Jitpur, Gandak Chowk and Kalaiya, and are collecting ‘road tax’, ‘scrap tax’, ‘herbs tax’ and ‘forest products tax’ since September 1, 2006. They have also been collecting money at Kabeli, Ranke and other places, demanding NPR 1,000 each from drivers of buses, trucks and other heavy vehicles, and NPR 500 from each taxi driver.
The Maoists have also engaged in regular disruption of the day-to-day administration in wide areas. Insurgents have obstructed the reestablishment of Police Posts throughout the country, as these are expected to hinder their subversive and extortion activities. They have obstructed re-establishment of displaced Police Posts in different parts of the Bhairahawa, Bardiya, Kaski, Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk, Sankhuwasabha, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Rukum and Humla Districts. Similar campaigns were also reported from far-western Districts such as Doti, Kanchanpur and Achham.
The Maoists have also disrupted the functioning of the various VDCs and District Development Committees (DDC). Padlocking Government offices, seizing documents, ransacking the offices, detaining and abducting the officials have been a very common in several Districts. Maoists have also disrupted the citizenship distribution process and have frequently interfered in the preparation of the voters’ list across Nepal.
Similarly, reports of Maoists disrupting the gatherings and meetings of other political parties and organisations have come from around the country. The Maoists have clashed with members of other groups, abducted their leaders and captured their houses. In the more recent incidents, on February 19, 2007, the Maoists captured a house owned by Dhirendra Shah, a member of the Royal family, at Nepalgunj in the Banke District on the claim that the ruling SPA and their party had agreed to ‘nationalise’ the properties of royal family. On March 19, Young Communist League (YCL) cadres, a Maoist front, led by Gorkha ‘district Secretary’ Chuda Khadka aka Prakash, captured 25 ropanis [1 Ropani = 5476 sq. ft] of land and four houses of former Army Chief Sachchit Shumsher Rana at Laxmibazaar in the Gorkha district, and hoisted their party flag there. Again, on May 19, Maoists captured 58 bighas [1 Bigha = 1.67 acres] of land belonging to four leaders of the Nepali Congress-Democratic Party. On some occasions, clashes with rival political formations have led to killings, as witnessed in the Gaur incident of March 21, 2007, when at least 28 Maoists were killed in a clash with activists of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum.
General strikes, transport strikes and demonstrations have also been used systematically for political intimidation, in open violation of the Ceasefire Code of Conduct. Forcibly shutting down shops, disrupting the movement of vehicles on roads, etc., has been reported on a regular basis. On December 19, protesting the Government's decision to nominate ambassadors and members of the NHRC, thousands of Maoist combatants, carrying arms, came out of the camps in Biratnagar, Dahaban in the Rolpa District, Surkhet, the Seventh Main Camp at Taalband of Kailali District, and other sub-camps, and staged demonstrations against the Government. They blocked major highways bringing transportation service to a halt. Educational and business institutions also remained closed.
The Ceasefire Code of Conduct asks the Maoists to "return the properties of the leaders, of political parties, activists and civilians, which were seized, locked up or prohibited from being used during the period of the conflict, to concerned persons or their families." The CPN-Maoist’s stand on this issue remains ambiguous.
On March 8, 2007, Prachanda expressed his commitment to return public property seized by the Maoists during the conflict and also promised to help those families displaced during the ‘people's war’ to return to their homelands. On May 2, 2007, however, senior Maoist leader Mohan Baidya aka Kiran declared that properties seized during the conflict could not be returned to their owners. However, on May 13, Prachanda disclosed that the Maoist Central Committee had taken a decision to return seized lands to the actual owners. After discussions with Prime Minister G.P. Koirala, Prachanda agreed to return the seized properties on the condition that Government would improve living conditions of the armed cadres in the cantonments. Then again, on May 17, Maoist spokesperson and Minister for Information and Communication, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, stated that the Maoists would not return seized lands to the owners until a revolutionary land reform act is enforced in the country. He also added that they would not return the properties before the Constituent Assembly elections. However, reports suggest that the process of returning some properties in the Banke and Dang Districts has now commenced.
Similarly, the Maoists have not shown any serious interest to the issue of rehabilitation of Internally Displaced People (IDPs). Till April 30, 2007, the Government had identified 18,924 IDPs from 6,923 families who were waiting to be rehabilitated. The number is expected to at least double after registration is completed in all the 75 districts. The Office of the High Commissioner for the Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal expressed serious concern about CPN-M’s non-compliance with its commitments to allow the displaced people to return home. The OHCHR noted that many IDPs have not returned home due to the "fear of local Maoist cadres." The OHCHR has also received reports of people trying to return home, but they are being chased away, and in some cases have been assaulted by local Maoist insurgents. There is also the fear that the Maoists expect the IDPs to appear before the ‘people’s courts’ to "account for past wrong-doings".
The Government, unsurprisingly, appears to be helpless. Each of the insurgents living in the 28 camps will now receive NPR 3,000 a month to meet their personal expenses. The Government has so far provided the insurgents NR 1.08 billion to run the camps. While Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat says the Maoists have given no account of how they spent the money, the insurgents have claimed the money is insufficient. Incidentally, the camps are being managed by the Physical Planning and Infrastructure Ministry headed by a senior Maoist leader, Hisila Yami @ Parvati, wife of Baburam Bhattarai, the Maoist second-in-command.
The Maoists have consistently violated the Code of Conduct, both in letter and spirit, and have continued with subversive, disruptive and intimidatory activities even after joining the Interim Government. This has been conceded by their party leader in the Interim Parliament, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who confessed that, "Maoist cadres were not completely transformed from their earlier mind set and behaviour as rebels… In fact, we are rebels. Our habits have not changed." With the King out of the way, and the National Army effectively immobilised, these ‘unchanged habits’ retain the key to the Maoist strategy to seize control of the country through a combination of ‘democratic’ and coercive strategies against which the Parliamentary parties appear to have no defence.
The NDFB’s Resurrection
The May 25 announcement of the now-customary extension of ceasefire with the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) notwithstanding, with each passing day the situation in the Bodo heartland of Assam is beginning to resemble the chaotic peace that prevails in the not so distant Nagaland. Several pockets in the Districts of western and central Assam, which have traditionally been home to the largest plains’ tribe in the State, the Bodos, are steadily sliding towards a state of systematically disregarded violence as a result of a war of attrition between the remnants of the disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) and the NDFB cadres. Neither the indifferent State Government nor distant New Delhi appears to be concerned about the steadily resurrecting NDFB.
The Union Government currently observes ceasefires with nine militant groups in Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura. However, the ‘ceasefire’ as a tool to establish peace in the restive Northeast has repeatedly failed in all cases, barring one, the Nayanbashi Jamatiya faction of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT). Hurriedly concluded ceasefires, based on vague and unprincipled ground rules, have not restricted the activities the militant groups that, in turn, have used the prevailing circumstances to institutionalise their activities including extortion and fratricidal wars with their rivals. There is little to suggest, that the two-year old ceasefire with the NDFB, which commenced in May 2005, has in any manner led to an augmentation in the control of the security forces in areas dominated by the militant outfit.
The peace process itself remains stalled over New Delhi’s insistence on a charter of demands from the NDFB, before negotiations begin. The NDFB’s leadership, however, including its Bangladesh-based ‘chairman’ Ranjan Daimary, has steadfastly refused to abide by periodic deadlines set by the Union Government to provide the charter, which it says would be submitted, "at an appropriate time and not according to India’s wishes". The intention to delay the dialogue process is quite clear in the various pronouncements emanating from the NDFB leadership. For instance, Ranjan Daimary in an interview on May 14, 2007, maintained that he was prepared to wait till India proves "its sincerity and honesty by resolving political conflicts with the NSCN (both factions), United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), Dima Halim Daogah (DHD) and the Achik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC)." Toeing a similar line, the outfit’s ‘general secretary’ Govinda Basumatary, stated, on May 15, that the delay is "not a very long time as formal talks with the National Security Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) started only after seven years of signing of ceasefire agreement… We do not want to expedite the process of talks and commit mistakes."
It is not difficult to discover the reason behind NDFB’s ‘patience’. The ceasefire regime has provided the group with an enormous opportunity not only to consolidate its strength, but also to run an efficient extortion network in its areas of dominance. The insurgent group has carried out several recruitment drives not only in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Districts, but also in the hilly Karbi Anglong District, which has a sizeable Bodo population. Its extortion drives have targeted the local civilian population as well the vehicles passing through the area. Since Districts such as Kokrajhar serve as the entry point for Assam, the NDFB’s extortion network casts its net wide, targeting virtually every single vehicle that enters the Northeast region. At least two incidents in January 2007, in which three trucks were set ablaze in the Baska and Chirang Districts, were linked to non-payment of NDFB ‘taxes’. NDFB cadres have even travelled to cities such as Guwahati to collect ransom amount from businessmen and Government officials.
The ceasefire has been marred by several problems, each highlighting a complete lack of preparedness that preceded its conclusion. According to the agreement, NDFB cadres are supposed to stay within the confines of their ‘designated camps’. However, only 200 cadres are staying in the three camps established so far at Sapkaita (Udalguri District), Medaghat (Baska District) and Bengtol (Kokrajhar District). While NDFB has complained about the lack of basic amenities in the camps, moves to set up more camps in different Districts have been resisted by the local people. As a result nearly 700 cadres (on NDFB estimates) are outside the camps and are free to move about in the country side. Interestingly, the group had a registered cadre strength of 1,027 at the time of the Agreement, which has, for unexplained reasons, has gone down to about 900.
Accusations of ceasefire violations have been mounting against the NDFB. On March 31, NDFB militants killed a personal security officer of a BTC executive member at Kumarikata Bazaar under the Tamulpur Police Station limits of Baska District. Again, on May 20, NDFB militants killed four persons, including a former-BLT cadre, in the Sonitpur District. The NDFB has denied its involvement in both the incidents, but appears to have acted in retaliation against the killing of two of its cadres in an attack by former BLT cadres at its Medaghat Camp on March 26. The NDFB has also accused former BLT cadres of raising a new militant group, the Bodoland Royal Tiger Force.
The Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) comprising representation from the Centre, Assam Government and the NDFB, has been a completely ineffective body, and has done little to address rising concerns. Similarly, attempts by community-based groups such as the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) and the Bodo Samaj, to end the differences between the former BLT and the NDFB, have had little impact.
It is useful to place the overall violence of the NDFB in the context of its history of acrimonious and violent relationship with the erstwhile BLT, especially between 1998 and 2000. Interestingly, both the groups originated with claims of representing ‘Bodo rights’. While the NDFB wanted a ‘sovereign’ Bodoland, the BLT – widely believed to have been supported by the intelligence agencies as a counter-force to the NDFB – had the relatively limited objective of a ‘separate’ state of Bodoland. Both before it opted for a ceasefire with the Government and thereafter, the BLT has borne the brunt of NDFB violence, which has systematically targeted its leaders, cadres and sympathisers.
BLT’s Memorandum of Settlement with the Union and Assam Governments on February 20, 2003, was followed by the en masse surrender of its 2,641 cadres on December 6, 2003. Much of its cadre strength has since been absorbed into the Central Para-military Forces (CPMF), while the leadership and remaining cadres have formed the Bodo People’s Progressive Front (BPPF). The BPPF has since been split into the Hagrama (H) and the Rabiram Brahma (R) factions. The BPPF-H controls the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), headquartered at Kokrajhar and is also a partner in the ruling coalition led by the Congress Party in State capital Dispur.
The BTC deal with New Delhi had proven a decisive nail in the coffin for the NDFB, whose capacities were further degraded following the December 2003 military operations in Bhutan, where the bulk of its cadres were based. The ineffective ceasefire and the political rivalry between the two factions of the BPPF are, however, allowing the NDFB to revive influence and operations. The BPPF-H is clearly worried by NDFB’s campaigns beyond the group’s traditional stronghold in Udalguri. Of late, the NDFB has moved into Kokrajhar to exploit the differences between the BPPF-H and BPPF-R. The latter, in order to revive its political fortunes, has chosen to ally with the NDFB and was in the forefront of rallies that condemned the March attack on the NDFB’s Medaghat camp. Political rivalries have also driven the ABSU, Bodo Women's Justice Forum, and the All Bodo Peace Forum into the NDFB camp, and these groups have taken out rallies in support of the insurgent outfit.
While the struggle for political space, interspersed with some violence, may still be acceptable within the Northeast’s troubled scenarios, the NDFB’s recent revival of relations with its former comrade-in-arms, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), sends more disturbing signals. Intelligence reports indicate a tactical alliance between the ULFA and the NDFB, with the latter assisting the ULFA to increase its dominance in the western Assam Districts and for gaining entry into Bhutan. As part of the pact, the NDFB is also said to have assisted ULFA in the abduction of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) Executive Director, P.C. Ram on April 17 from Guwahati. A ransom of INR 210 million was demanded for the senior executive, who remains currently untraceable, though the Assam Police has confirmed his confinement in the Baska District bordering Bhutan.
NDFB’s resurrection is a natural corollary not just of the political rivalry in the Bodo heartland, but also of the flawed character and free dispensation of ceasefire agreements in the region, which have released militant groups from the threat of security force operations, but have failed to bind insurgent cadres to a working code of conduct that can protect civilians and prevent extortion, intimidation and armed violence. Regrettably, these defective deals with terrorists remain the Centre’s preferred tool for containing extremist activities in the region.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
May 21-27, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Army Chief rules out military involvement in politics: Army chief Lt. Gen. Moeen U. Ahmed said on May 23, 2007, that power takeover by the military or their getting involved in politics is out of the question as the Army is not the "proper institution" to run the Government. In a meeting with newspaper editors at his office in Dhaka, Gen. Moeen said he wants elections and restoration of an elected Government as early as possible. Moeen said that if the Army wanted to take power, they could have done it during the chaotic period following October 28, 2006, when there were many such occasions. "But we have resisted all temptations because we do not want to be involved in politics or run the Government...The Army is not the proper institution for governing the country," he said. He further stated, "I have no intention or ambition to be in politics or go beyond my role as the Army Chief. I am looking forward to my retirement and leading a life as an ordinary Bangladeshi citizen...I may be involved in some sort of social work." The Daily Star, May 24, 2007.
No military solution to Kashmir issue, says Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: Indicating that there could be no military solution to disputes like the Kashmir issue, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said in New Delhi on May 23, 2007, that a lasting solution could only be arrived at through dialogue. Though the armed forces were always vigilant, he said, "Equally, we have the wisdom and the courage to say that the only lasting solution to any political or bilateral dispute is one that is negotiated through dialogue and discussion, and is arrived at honourably and to the satisfaction of all." Releasing the book "1965 War: The Inside Story" by former Governor, R.D. Pradhan, Dr. Singh said, "There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that we are prepared and determined to deal with any threat to our national security in the appropriate manner. Our Armed Forces are always ready to deal with any such challenge." The Hindu, May 24, 2007.
Talks with Taliban necessary for stability in Afghanistan, says President Musharraf: President Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with The Globe and Mail that talks with the Taliban and other opposition may be necessary to bring stability to Afghanistan. "We have to have a multipronged strategy. In Afghanistan it is only the military strategy which is working now," Gen. Musharraf said, adding that peace could not come from the barrel of a gun. "[The] political element is the negotiations between warring factions. Who are the warring factions? Warring factions are the Afghan Government and the Coalition Forces on one side and the militant Taliban and even non-Taliban... so some form of negotiations between these two."
Gen. Musharraf claimed that Pakistan was the only country that had a military, political, developmental and administrative strategy to defeat extremism. "I would tell everyone: Come and learn from us. We are sitting here knowing exactly what is happening on ground," he said. "You sitting in the West don’t know anything. So, don’t teach me, come and learn from us. Come and understand the environment. And then decide on what has to be done and what doesn’t have to be done. We are doing more than any other country in the world." Commenting on casualties in the war on terror, President Musharraf said: "Unfortunately the people in the West think that their lives are more important than our lives ... they think the gun fodder should be from these countries like Pakistan and developing countries. If their soldiers, one soldier, dies, there is a problem, but 500 of ours have died. And then, yet they are blaming us. Isn’t 500 important? ... And yet Pakistan is blamed for not doing enough." Daily Times, May 24, 2007.
Government signs peace deal with Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi in NWFP: The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal led North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Government on May 22, 2007, struck a nine-point peace agreement with an Islamist cleric who has led a campaign through an unlicensed radio station against polio vaccinations and education for girls in the Swat District. In exchange for allowing the FM radio station to continue broadcasts, Maulana Fazlullah of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) agreed to now support the polio vaccination campaign and education for girls, as well as Government efforts to establish law and order. He also agreed to wrap up all training facilities for militants and making of weapons, and support the District administration in any operation against anti-state elements.
Maulana Fazlullah, who is also son-in-law of Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the imprisoned chief of the TNSM, and Swat District Coordination Officer (DCO) Syed Muhammad Javed signed the agreement in the presence of a council made up of some 100 local notables and Government representatives. Fazlullah reportedly has considerable support among the conservative population of the District and led a campaign denouncing television, music, polio drops, education for girls and women’s empowerment through speeches on his illegal FM station. He has now been allowed to operate the radio station until Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority laws are extended to the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas. "I have signed the agreement for the sake of peace as Islam teaches us peace," Maulana Fazlullah, 28, said after the signing ceremony in an under-construction mosque at Pam Dheri village. Swat DCO Javed said "There was a misunderstanding between the Government and the Maulana sahib and today’s agreement has removed this misunderstanding." Under the agreement, the Government will look for legal ways to withdraw cases against the cleric, who agreed that he would not allow his supporters to be involved in making weapons and running militant training camps in mountains areas of the District, and that he would support the Government against militants. The agreement also bars the cleric and his supporters from displaying weapons in public and interfering in Government departments’ affairs. Daily Times, May 23, 2007.
18 LTTE cadres and four sailors killed in LTTE attack on naval base in Jaffna: The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) foiled an attack by the Sea Tiger naval wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), on the SLN’s Delft Island base in Jaffna District on the morning of May 24. "The Navy observed two LTTE boats trying to infiltrate the Delft islands. They went into action and attacked the LTTE boats which were spying on the Navy Coast Guard. Following this, 16 sea Tiger boats, including six suicide boats, attacked the Navy," military spokesperson Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said, adding, "The sea battle lasted for four hours from 1.30 am to 4.30 a.m. The sailors foiled the attack successfully causing heavy damage to the Sea Tiger cadres. We believe that the LTTE suffered heavy damage. The sailors retaliated against the attack with the assistance of the Air Force." According to the LTTE communications intercepts, more than 18 Sea Tiger cadres, including four leaders, were killed, Samarasinghe disclosed, adding that four sailors were also killed and an equal number of them sustained injuries in the incident. The Navy also destroyed four LTTE suicide boats out of the 18 and severely damaged another two. The LTTE flotilla had come to the Delft Island (42 square kilometres) from Mannar and Pooneryn and attacked the Navy guard from the ground. Meanwhile, LTTE military spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan told Tamil Net, "[The] commando marines of the LTTE naval wing, the Sea Tigers, launched a pre-dawn attack [on] Thursday on Delft islet off Jaffna coast, inflicting heavy losses to the Sri Lanka Navy [SLN]," and claimed that at least 30 sailors were killed, a Dvora Fast Attack Craft was destroyed and two naval vessels sustained damages in the operation that lasted for two hours. Daily News, May 25, 2007.