SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
of ‘Peace Deals’
Ever since the American-led ouster of the Taliban regime from Kabul in 2001, pro-Taliban tribals in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) have been stirred up to join their Pashtun brethren in Afghanistan, waging jihad against the Americans and the Karzai regime. The entire Province and particularly its tribal areas, which are administered by the Federal Government, have since become a hotbed of violence, terrorism and Islamist radicalism. These developments are now threatening the writ of the Pakistan Government along its disputed borders with neighbouring Afghanistan. These border regions are now, in fact, often referred to as the epicentre of global terrorism.
The blame for this state of affairs along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border lies primarily with successive Federal Governments in Pakistan, which chose to ignore education and economic development in the tribal areas. As a result, the people lead a lifestyle rooted in the nineteenth, rather than the twenty-first century. The tribals have also, for nearly three decades now, been armed with some of the most potent weapons and encouraged to join their Pashtun brethren across the Durand Line to support jihad in Afghanistan. This propensity to using tribals for achieving foreign policy objectives has, in fact, been a regular feature in Pakistani military strategy, ever since tribals were let loose on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in 1948. The entire quest of the Pakistani military establishment for ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan has been nothing more than an attempt to make Afghanistan a client state ruled by an internationally isolated medieval clique, the Taliban, which is totally dependent on Pakistan for its survival. But Pakistan is, now, paying the price for these policies.
Pakistan’s follies have been matched by American military ineptness, with General Tommy Franks making no effort to block exit routes for the Taliban and al Qaeda leadership, even as the Northern Alliance overran Kabul in 2001. The net result of this ineptitude was that, while the Taliban leadership, including its ‘Amir’ (chief) Mullah Mohammed Omar, took refuge in Balochistan, Taliban military commanders and their al Qaeda, Chechen and Uzbek allies melted into the rugged mountainous terrain of the NWFP. Some second ranking al Qaeda leaders have since been captured. But, the Taliban leadership under Mullah Omar remains intact. In the face of tremendous American pressure, the Pakistan Army moved into the tribal areas in 2004, but soon found that the tribals it had armed for jihad in Afghanistan were more than a handful to deal with. Successive ‘peace deals’ were signed with tribal leaders like Baitullah Mehsud and Faqir Mohammed between 2004 and 2006. These ‘deals’ required the tribals to end all support for ‘foreign militants’, in return for lifting of the blockade imposed by the Army and a pledge by the Government of Pakistan for large-scale economic assistance.
None of the peace agreements of the past has worked, with the tribal militants escalating terrorist attacks and suicide bombings across Pakistan after the siege of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad in July 2007. Around 300 Pashtun women students from the tribal areas are reported to have been killed in the assault on Lal Masjid. The tribals also declared war on the Pakistan army and terrorist strikes were undertaken on military installations, including units of the elite Special Services Group (SSG), once commanded by General Musharraf. The Pakistan Army had earlier got a bloody nose in its operations in the tribal areas. An estimated 1,564 armed forces’ personnel have been killed and 570 captured in operations in the NWFP between March 2004 and May 2008. There are also reports of significant desertions and refusals to fight by members of the armed forces. In the meantime, various pro-Taliban tribal groups within the country united under the banner of the Tehriq-e-Taliban e Pakistan, headed by Baitullah Mehsud, on December 14, 2007, on which date 40 pro-Taliban tribal leaders from all the Tribal Agencies and the Districts of Swat, Banu, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohistan, Buner and the Malakand, met and decided to form a joint resistance movement. The Tehriq vowed to step up operations against NATO forces in Afghanistan and build up strong defences to take on Pakistani forces. A ten-day ultimatum was issued to the Pakistan Government to release the jailed Lal Masjid cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi, who had been incarcerated after he surrendered during the July 2007 assault in Islamabad.
Baitullah Mehsud offered a ceasefire on February 7, 2008, following what were evidently secret negotiations with the Army. An exhausted Army Chief, General Ashfaq Kiyani, seeking space to distance himself from the widely unpopular policies of General Pervez Musharraf, duly reciprocated, and an uneasy and tenuous ceasefire prevails in the tribal areas, disturbed occasionally by strikes by American assets on suspected Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts in the tribal areas. While American ire has been directed against the newly elected Government for pursuing what are believed to be policies of appeasing terrorism on Pakistani soil, the reality is that it is the Pakistan Army that is no longer willing to fight pro-Taliban tribals in the NWFP, even as it enriches its coffers with American aid. At the same time, however, another drama has been enacted in the picturesque tourist District of Swat, where the newly elected Awami National Party (ANP)-led Provincial Government has concluded yet another ‘peace deal’ with the leader of a longstanding fundamentalist and pro-Taliban outfit, the Tehriq-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) led by Maulana Fazlullah, popularly known as ‘Maulana Radio’, because he runs an illegal radio station demanding the implementation of Shariah law. The military had launched operations against ‘Maulana Radio’ in November 2007 after he took over the entire District, enforced rigid Shariah laws and blocked the strategic Karakoram Highway, linking Pakistan and China.
The 15 point ‘Peace Deal’ signed between the ANP Government and TNSM on May 21, 2008, bans private militias. The public display of weapons is forbidden. The TNSM has agreed that it will not interfere in the education of girls, that it will not attack barber shops and music parlours and will not prevent vaccination of children against polio (earlier obstructed as an ‘American plot’ to sterilize Muslim children). The TNSM has pledged to close down training centres for suicide bombers (thereby acknowledging such centres existed earlier) and that it will end manufacture of explosive devices. In return, that Government has accepted that Swat will be governed, not by Pakistani laws, but by Shariah law. Moreover, the impasse over the illegal Radio station has been resolved by Maulana Fazlullah nominally accepting the writ of the Pakistan Government and agreeing to seek Government permission to run the radio station –permission that can hardly be refused. This ‘peace deal’ was signed by a high-level ANP delegation and by representatives of Maulana Fazlullah. Just as the agreement was being signed, two girls’ schools, a picnic centre and a gas pipeline were blown up in Swat.
There is little scope for such agreements to succeed, either in preventing cross-border terrorist activities, or in reasserting the eroding writ of the Pakistan State in its volatile western border areas. The fundamental problem arises from the fact that no Pashtun leader will ever accept that his Afghan Taliban brethren are ‘foreign militants’. The Taliban leadership and cadres will, therefore, continue to receive haven and support in the tribal areas and, indeed, throughout the NWFP. Secondly, there is the problem of the so called ‘Kashmiri Mujahideen’ who entered the NWFP and were settled by the ISI in the Malakand Division and in some of the tribal areas, after the earthquake that struck Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in October 2005. Informed sources in the NWFP note that, when the earthquake struck in PoK, an estimated ten thousand jihadis, mostly comprising Pakistani Punjabis from groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), collectively referred to as ‘Kashmir Mujahideen’, who were in camps in PoK, had to be moved into the NWFP, when NATO and western relief teams descended on PoK. These jihadis have made common cause with the Taliban and have been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks and suicide bombings, both within Pakistan (after the Lal Masjid siege) and in Afghanistan. They will not countenance any curbs on crossing into Afghanistan. It remains to be seen if, during negotiations for ‘peace deals’ in the tribal areas, the ISI succeeds in persuading the ‘Kashmir Mujahideen’ to leave the country’s western borders and return to POK and to pursue their original aim of waging jihad in J&K.
When asked whether the ceasefire he announced on February 7, 2008, was a prelude to his ending his jihad in Afghanistan, Baitullah Mehsud replied: "Islam does not recognize frontiers. Jihad in Afghanistan will continue". Any ‘peace deal’ the NWFP Government or the Army concludes with Pashtun militant groups is set to fail, because Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line do not recognize the Durand Line as an international border which separates them. And all efforts by the Americans or others to persuade any Government in Afghanistan to recognize the legitimacy of the Durand Line as an international border will inevitably fail.
It remains to be seen for how long the Americans will continue to tolerate cross-border attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan. A bruised Pakistan Army, in which Pashtuns constitute a significant element, is reluctant to face further disaffection and desertions in its ranks caused by fighting its kinsmen in the NWFP. Moreover, there is, as yet, no evidence to suggest that the Pakistan Army establishment has given up its zeal for ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan, or its propensity to use radical Islamist groups to achieve its strategic goals. For all practical purposes, however, the Durand Line no longer exists as a manageable international border. The writ of the Pakistani State in this entire region has been significantly eroded.
Where is Pakistan headed in the coming years, as it faces up to the blowback of past policies? In its Report of 2001, entitled "Global Trends 2015", the US National Intelligence Council noted:
These observations, dating back more than seven years, are certainly prescient, and it will be interesting to observe how present developments along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border play out, against the backdrop of this scenario.
As expected, Nepal was declared a ‘Federal Democratic Republic’ by the newly elected Constituent Assembly (CA) in its first meeting on May 28. After the meeting, Chairman Kul Bahadur Gurung announced that "the proposal tabled by the Government for implementation of a republic has been passed as 560 members out of 564 present today voted in favour of the proposal and four against." Only the royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) members voted against the proposal. The CA also formally abolished the institution of monarchy and instructed the Government to make sure that King Gyanendra Shah and his family leave Narayanhiti Royal Palace within 10 days. Earlier in the day, a meeting of the major political parties agreed on a structure comprehending a ceremonial President as the Head of State and an executive Prime Minister as the Head of Government.
With the birth of the ‘Federal Democratic Republic’, the fate of the 240-year old institution of monarchy is now sealed. The royal flag at the Narayanhiti Palace has been lowered and replaced by the national flag. Earlier, the Maoists had issued several threats and set May 27 (one day before the scheduled declaration of a Republic) as the deadline for the King to leave the Narayanhiti Palace. Maoist chairman Prachanda said, on May 13, 2008, that, "We have advised him to live like a commoner or else we will have to use force to kick him out." However, the first CA meeting decided to send an official letter to the King to leave the palace within 10 days and to bring the palace under Government control within 15 days, for its eventual conversion into a national museum.
This crucial CA meeting was preceded by a number of unsuccessful parleys between the political parties on various critical issues, on which a consensus was thought to be necessary before the declaration of the Republic. These included the process of amendment to the Interim Constitution for forming or dissolving a Government, the nature of the Government, the future of the monarchy, the nomination of the 26 members of the CA, etc.
On May 26, in a meeting with the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), the Maoists presented their nine-point proposal. Apart from declaring the country a Republic in the first meeting of the CA, they proposed that the Prime Minister should be the officiating Head of State till the drafting of the new Constitution. In the proposal, the Maoists demanded further that, if the position of President is to be established, then both the positions of President and Prime Minister should go to them, as they were the single largest party in the CA. They also proposed to end the paramilitary character of their militant youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL), and bring their People's Liberation Army (PLA) under the Government for rehabilitation and integration (with the Nepal Army). While other major political parties insisted on a simple majority formula for forming or dissolving a Government, the Maoists insisted that the current constitutional provision of a two-third majority must not be changed, evidently fearing that this could bring down their Government at any time in the future. The Maoists proposed that Girija Prasad Koirala could be the head of the 25-party coordination mechanisms.
On its part, the NC submitted a seven-point agenda to be fulfilled as a precondition to joining the new Government. Apart from the amendment of the Interim Constitution relating to the formula for formation or dissolution of the Government, the seven-point demands included disbanding the YCL, dissolving the Maoists' PLA, abiding by the landmark Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and halting acts of intimidation, violence, abduction and extortion by the YCL and PLA, and the dissolution of the Maoists’ People’s Court, and Maoists’ local governments. It is significant that, with the sole exception of the amendment of the interim constitution, the other demands of the NC are primarily related to acts of violence, threat and intimidation by the Maoists and their sister organisations. Senior NC leader and former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba demanded, "How can a party that is running parallel and rebel government structures lead a consensus government?" He added, further, "How should I behave with a person, who is a CA member, YCL commander and a commander of the Maoist army? Should I behave with him as a CA member or a commander of a rebel organisation?"
Similar, demands have been also raised by the CPN-UML, who among other issues, insisted on regulating the behaviour of the YCL. The apprehension of the two major political parties regarding the violence and intimidation perpetrated by the Maoists was justified by the fact that, even after the elections have been completed, YCL cadres continued to target activists and supporters of other political parties, creating an enveloping environment of fear and terror.
Maoist activities have also attracted the adverse attention of human rights bodies. On May 18, 2008, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Nepal expressed serious concern over the activities of the YCL and affirmed that these activities violated the fundamental rights enshrined in the Interim Constitution, the Comprehensive Peace Accord, as well as international humanitarian laws. The NHRC also urged the Government to, independently and impartially, probe crimes committed by the YCL, and to punish them on charges of criminal offence. Similarly, the London-based human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, in its 2008 Global Report, blamed the YCL for violating human rights and enumerated a number of human rights abuses, including abductions and ill-treatment in captivity, assaults and violent disruption of political activities.
In spite of the criticism, however, the Maoists are in no mood to fall in line, and remain adamant on their right to form the new Government. As in the past, each position and demand is backed by intimidatory rhetoric, warning of ‘severe consequences’ if their will is thwarted. Thus the Maoist Minister for Physical Planning and Works, Hisila Yami, on May 9, 2008, threatened that if her party was not allowed to lead the Government, it would initiate yet another people’s revolt. "We are capable enough to the lead the Government," she declared, "if any hurdle as such is created in not allowing us to lead the Government, we will seek the support of the people to go in for a new form of revolt of greater dimension." She added, "I would like to remind it to all (sic) that our party had single-handedly led the decade long rebellion… we will have no problem as such in leading the Government in Kathmandu." And further, "The so-called big parties have been already rejected by the people, they possess no moral right or whatsoever to lead the government in future."
Earlier, senior Maoist leader C.P. Gajurel warned of a revolt if the NC did not relinquish power voluntarily, and, with little pretence to subtlety or civility, asserted, "The revolt will kick Koirala out of Singha Durbar."
The Maoists, in a bid to further strengthen their position in the CA, have laid claim to two crucial positions in the Government and the Assembly – that of President and Prime Minister. On May 29, 2008, senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai asserted that, being the single largest party, the Maoists deserve both the positions, and added that, in the transitional phase, both positions should go to a single party to avoid the creation of parallel power centres. Earlier, Prachanda had declared that he was ready to share power with other parties, but not the posts of President and Prime Minister. He reiterated his stand on May 30: "We are not ready to offer head of state and other key posts to those who were defeated in the elections. If those overthrown by the people still claim them, we will not accept it." He also openly threatened the NC and CPN-UML that, "If the NC and CPN-UML do not mend their ways, that may invite a Communist Republic."
The Maoist position, however, is rejected by the other political parties. Thus, the CPN-UML chief Jhalanath Khanal argued: "The constitutional and political basis and the people’s mandate through the CA polls do not favour a single party Government. So, the next Government should be formed by national consensus and unity between the parties." Khanal insisted, further, that the results of the CA elections made it almost impossible for the same party to hold the posts of Prime Minister and President. Similarly, NC leader and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction, Ram Chandra Poudel, noted that, "Demanding both President and Prime Minister is nothing but totalitarian tendency (sic)," emphasising further that this was a time when the political parties should work together and move ahead with consensus.
Earlier, at a meeting with the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Evan A. Feigenbaum, on May 26, 2008, Maoist leaders Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai had promised to end the paramilitary character of the YCL. However, there appears to be no serious indications of any effort to dismantle or regulate the behaviour of this much-detested group, as it continues to work as the backbone of the parent party. Completely disbanding the YCL would significantly diminish the Maoists’ influence at the grassroot level. The Maoists clearly realise the crucial contribution of the YCL during the CA election, and are unwilling to sacrifice the critical advantage this militant grouping offers them over other political formations in the country.
It is not clear how the Maoists propose to break the current deadlock, or whether they accept the notion of power sharing and cooperation with other parties to secure long-term peace and stability in the country. Their past record and present postures suggest that they are yet to abandon the patterns of intimidation and coercion that have gradually helped them consolidate their power and position in Kathmandu. To the extent that the other political formations remain ineffectual and irresolute, there is no substantive motive that could persuade the Maoists to discard the strategies and tactics of their past successes. The essential Maoist objective remains the seizure of the effective power of the state, not the establishment of what they regard as a petty bourgeois democracy. The declaration of a Republic has brought them one step closer to this objective.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
May 26-June 1, 2008
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Constituent Assembly declares Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic: The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly (CA) on May 28 overwhelmingly voted for the abolition of the monarchy in the country and declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic. The chairman of the meeting, Kul Bahadur Gurung, announced, "I declare that the proposal tabled by the Government for implementation of a Republic has been passed as 560 members out of 564 present today voted in favour of the proposal and 4 against." Only the royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal members voted against the proposal. The CA also instructed the Government to make sure that King Gyanendra Shah and his family leave the Narayanhiti Royal Palace within 10 days. On the same day, a meeting of the major political parties agreed to have a ceremonial President as the Head of State and an executive Prime Minister as the Head of Government. Kantipur Online, May 29, 2008.
Pakistan exports terrorism to world, says Afghan Speaker: Afghanistan Senate Speaker Sibghatullah Mijaddedi, during his visit to India on June 1, accused Pakistan of being an "exporter of terrorism" to other parts of the world, and blamed it for all problems in his country. Addressing the concluding session of an international conference on terrorism in New Delhi, Mijaddedi said, "Pakistan is exporting terrorism to different parts of the world. Eighty to 90 per cent of terror attacks around the world can be traced back to Pakistan. The ISI is exporting terrorists trained in their terror camps," Mijaddedi said. Criticising the allied forces fighting the "war against terror" in Afghanistan of turning a blind eye to the terror camps operating in Pakistan, he said, "We are suffering because of the interference of ISI in our country; everyday we lose our people, young and old indiscriminately." The Hindu, June 2, 2008.
Government swapped Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Obaidullah for Tariq Azizuddin: Two senior Taliban leaders, Mullah Obaidullah Akhund and Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, were released by the Pakistan Government along with hundreds of other Taliban militants to secure the release of Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin and 35 Army officials. Despite the fact that Government officials denied the prisoner swap, both the militant leaders reached Afghanistan around two weeks ago. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Security, Rehman Malik, however, denied any such prisoner swap between the Taliban and the Government of Pakistan, saying that not a single prisoner was released in return for the release of Ambassador Azizuddin. But a prominent jihadi leader from Afghanistan confirmed the development, saying "The release of both the Taliban commanders was part of a 'package swap deal' between the Pakistani authorities and the Taliban under which 35 Army personnel were also released besides the Pakistani Ambassador and his staff."
Obaidullah was arrested on March 1, 2007. He is the most senior Taliban figure captured to date, and "is considered by American intelligence officials to have been one of the Taliban leaders closest to Osama bin Laden," as well as part of the "inner core of the Taliban leadership around Mullah Muhammad Omar." Obaidullah is a member of the Taliban's Shura Majlis, or executive council, and is thought to be third in command. Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, a senior Taliban leader, was wounded and captured along with five lieutenants by the Frontier Corps on February 11, 2008. The officials said that Mansoor was captured while crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan. The News, May 28, 2008.
Taliban declare cease-fire in Darra Adamkhel: The Taliban on May 28 announced a complete cessation of hostilities after holding talks for six days with a peace committee of elders from Darra Adamkhel in the NWFP. A spokesman for ‘commander’ Tariq disclosed that the Government had assured them that the military would stop operations in Darra Adamkhel and, in return, the Taliban would stop their activities on the stretch of the Indus Highway passing through Darra Adamkhel. The Government was reportedly trying to hold talks with the militants engaged in armed clashes with security forces since February 25, 2008, to ensure that the Indus Highway passing through Darra Adamkhel and the Kohat tunnel remained safe. The administration had formed a jirga (council) in Kohat on May 22 and sent it to the Taliban to hold talks on behalf of the Government. Dawn, May 29, 2008.
Previously, on May 24, the Taliban in South Waziristan had declared that it would not accept any Government condition to stop cross-border movement to finalise a peace deal. Abu Zakwan, the Taliban commander in the Kotkai area of South Waziristan, stated, "First, we will not accept such a ban. But we hope the peace deal will be inked without a clause that puts restrictions on Mujahideen to cross the border (into Afghanistan)." Zakwan further said that Government negotiators were asking for a pledge to stop cross-border attacks, but the Taliban were not committing to such an agreement. He said, Waziristan was serving the region as a "centre for jihad" and people from across the country were being trained for holy war "against the United States". The Daily Times, May 28, 2008.
Balochistan National Party rejects proposed peace talks: The Balochistan National Party (BNP), on May 31, refused to participate in the Government-sponsored talks aimed to establish peace in the Balochistan province, saying that Islamabad should first halt the ongoing military operation. "We will not participate in the talks until the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Government stops the military operation in the mountains of Balochistan, frees all the political prisoners and withdraws [the Army] from the province," Sardar Akhtar Mengal, president of the BNP, told a News Conference in Karachi. Mengal alleged that thousands of people had been displaced because of the military crackdown in several Districts of Balochistan, particularly Dera Bugti and Kohlu. Talks made no sense until the displaced people were brought back to their homes, he said. The Post, June 2, 2008.
US to freeze assets of four Lashkar-e-Toiba leaders: The United States Treasury said, on May 27, it had decided to freeze the assets of four leaders of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), including its chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed. The State Department had designated the LeT a foreign terrorist organisation in 2001. The group’s "transnational nature makes it crucial for governments worldwide to do all they can to stifle LeT’s fund-raising and operations… LeT is a dangerous al Qaeda affiliate that has demonstrated its willingness to murder innocent civilians", said Stuart Levey, the Treasury’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Any assets these men have under US jurisdiction will be frozen, and Americans will be prohibited from doing business with them, the Treasury said. The four included Saeed, who, the Treasury said, has played a major role in the organisation’s operational and fund-raising activities. It named the others as Pakistan-born Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the chief of operations; Haji Mohammad Ashraf, the chief of finance, and India-born Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq, described as the main LeT financier in the 1980s and 1990s. Dawn, May 28, 2008.
161 LTTE militants and 22 civilians among 194 persons killed during the week: 164 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants, 22 civilians and eleven soldiers were among 194 persons killed in separate incidents between May 25 and June 1, 2008. 10 LTTE cadres were killed by the troops during an encounter in the Mundipurippu area of the Vavuniya District on May 25. Seven soldiers sustained injuries in these clashes. Further, on May 26, at least eight passengers, including four women, were killed when a LTTE parcel bomb with a timer exploded in a crowded train near Dehiwala, a Colombo suburb. More than 70 persons were injured in the explosion, which occurred in the fifth compartment of the Kalutara District-bound train. On the same day, at least 13 LTTE militants were killed and a dozen others were injured in sporadic clashes between the militants and troops in the Mannar and Vavuniya Districts. 11 LTTE militants were killed and seven others injured during clashes with the security forces (SFs) in the Olumaduwai, Periyamadu, Sinnamalayankaddu and Kappankulam areas of the Mannar and Vavuniya districts. On May 29, SFs foiled a pre-dawn sea attack by the LTTE sinking three Sea Tiger (the sea wing of the LTTE) boats and killing at least 15 militants. At least 14 LTTE militants were killed 42 others injured as SFs captured one of the outfit’s major strategic bases known as "Munnagam" in the Janakapura area of Vavuniya District. Further, at least 19 LTTE militants were killed and more than 15 others injured during clashes with the troops in the Kodikamam, Nedunkandal and Pullekyarkulam areas of Mannar District. Three soldiers were also killed while 10 others received injuries in these clashes. Sri Lanka Army; Daily News; Colombo Page, May 26-June 2, 2008.
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