SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
approximations of truth
Two days after the world observed the seventh anniversary of the catastrophic 9/11 attacks in America, a routine reminder that terrorism was alive and kicking was delivered in India’s capital city on the evening of September 13, 2008. A series of explosions in crowded markets in Delhi killed 21 and wounded at least 151. There was little to distinguish these attacks, apart from operational specificities, from the succession of comparable attacks across India that have occurred with sickening regularity – with interregnums largely ranging up to three months – for the past nearly three years, and with a lesser frequency over the preceding decade. Fresh in memory, of course, are the serial explosions in Ahmedabad, on July 26, 2008; in Bangalore, on July 25, 2008; at Jaipur, on May 13, 2008; the fidayeen attack on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Group Centre at Rampur in Uttar Pradesh (UP) on December 31, 2007; the serial blasts in court premises in Varanasi, Faizabad and Lucknow in UP, on November 23, 2007; the serial explosions in Hyderabad in August and in May, 2007…
The ‘Indian Mujahiddeen’ (IM) have laid claim to the latest cycle of bombings in Delhi in an email delivered to media organisations even as the first bombs exploded. This is the fourth serial terrorist attack claimed under this identity – the preceding three include Ahmedabad, Jaipur and the Uttar Pradesh court explosions. Cumulative evidence derived from these past cases indicates that the IM is nothing but the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The repeated attribution of attacks to the IM suggests that SIMI is seeking to establish this identity for its terrorist operations, even as it continues to make a bid for the removal of the ban on its own activities before the courts and with the support of sympathetic political parties. If such a strategy is eventually successful, SIMI could re-establish its overground networks for mobilisation and advocacy of its brand of extremist Islam, while its cadres ‘graduate’ to terrorist activities under the ‘independent’ IM banner. This would create great difficulties for enforcement agencies, confronted with an apparently legitimate ‘political’ movement, formally distanced from, but backed by an underground terrorist group – a model that several terrorist organisations have adopted in democratic countries across the world.
Much is now being made of the ‘indigenisation’ of Islamist extremism and terrorism in India as purportedly opposed to the earlier Pakistan-backed terrorist activities. It is crucial, at this juncture, to scotch emerging misconceptions on this count. Islamist terrorism in India has always had an Indian face – but has overwhelmingly been engineered and directed from Pakistan, and nothing has changed in this scenario. Going back to the March 1993 serial explosions in Mumbai, which killed 257 persons and left 713 injured, and were executed by the Dawood Ibrahim gang, for instance, it is useful to recall that nearly 1,800 kilograms of RDX and a large number of detonators and small arms had been smuggled from Pakistan through India’s West Coast prior to the blasts. The operation was coordinated by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and Ibrahim and a number of his gang members have since lived under state protection in Karachi. Similarly, al Ummah, which was responsible for a series of 19 explosions in February, 1998, which left 50 dead in the Coimbatore District of Tamil Nadu, and which had established a wide network of extremist organisations across South India, was also aided by Pakistan, with a considerable flow of funds from Pakistan-based terror groups, often through the Gulf. The Deendar Anjuman, headed by Zia-ul-Hassan, which orchestrated a series of 13 explosions in churches in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa between May and July 2000, was, again, bankrolled by the ISI. The then Indian Union Minister for Home Affairs had stated in Parliament that investigators had established linkages between the Deendar Anjuman and Pakistan’s covert intelligence agency. Hassan himself was based in Peshawar (Pakistan), where the sect was established under the name of Anjuman Hizbullah, and he is said to have floated a militant group, the Jamaat-e-Hizb-ul-Mujahiddeen in Pakistan, in order to ‘capture India and spread Islam’.
It is entirely within this paradigm that SIMI’s evolution as a terrorist group is located. Absent the support and involvement of Pakistan’s covert agencies and an enduring partnership with a range of Pakistan based or backed terrorist groups, prominently including the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Harkat-ul-Mujahiddeen (HuM), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-BD), SIMI may have had an amateur flirtation with terrorism, an impulse that would quickly have been exhausted with a handful of low-grade and at least occasionally accidental bomb blasts. Instead, its leadership and cadres have had a long apprenticeship alongside Pakistani terrorist groups operating in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), and several of the more promising candidates have crossed the border to secure ‘advanced training’ on Pakistani soil or in Bangladesh. SIMI’s control centre has, for some time now, been based in Pakistan. Operational command in a number of major attacks, including the Samjhauta Express bombing (February 18, 2007) and the two serial attacks in Hyderabad in May and August 2007, was known to have been exercised by Moahmmad Shahid aka Bilal. Bilal was reported to have been shot in Karachi in September 2007, and, while Indian intelligence sources remain sceptical, no confirmed sighting has subsequently been reported. Operational control thereafter has shifted to the Lahore-based second-in-command, Mohammad Amjad.
I have repeatedly emphasised the fact that "Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) – as an organ of the country’s military and political establishment – has been, and remains, the principal source of the impetus, the infrastructure and the organisational networks of what is inaccurately called ‘Islamist’ terrorism across the world." An overwhelming proportion of so-called ‘Islamist’ terrorism is, in fact, simply ‘ISI terrorism’.
While the Indian establishment remains unusually coy about this reality – with fitful and often quickly qualified exception – some measure of satisfaction may now be derived from a growing American recognition of Pakistan’s pernicious role as an abiding source of Islamist terrorism. Had this recognition come in the first weeks after 9/11, that could have saved thousands of lives, most significantly in Afghanistan and India, but also in Europe and across Asia.
Nevertheless, Western commentators and Governments are now increasingly acknowledging Pakistan’s duplicity in the ‘global war on terror’, the proclivity to act as an "on-and-off ally of Washington". While providing fitful cooperation in US anti-terrorism efforts, The Washington Times notes,
US Intelligence officials, The Washington Times notes further, compare "al Qaeda’s operational and organisational advantages in the FATA to those it enjoyed in Afghanistan prior to September 11", and warn that "al Qaeda was training and positioning its operatives to carry out attacks in the West, probably including the United States."
These disclosures coincide with reports that President Bush had secretly approved orders in July 2008, allowing American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani Government. US Forces have executed numerous missile attacks from unmanned Predator drones on Pakistani soil in the past, but the September 3, 2008, attack by NATO and US ground troops at a Taliban – al Qaeda stronghold in South Waziristan was the first instance in which troops had participated. The incident has already been followed by drone attacks on September 9 on a seminary run by Jalaluddin Haqqani, in which 20 persons, including some senior al Qaeda operatives were killed; and on September 12, at Tul Khel in North Waziristan, in which an al Badr Mujahiddeen commander was targeted. Haqqani, it is significant, was known to have engineered the attack on the Indian Embassy at Kabul, using a LeT suicide cadre Hamza Shakoor, a Pakistani from Gujranwala District, on behalf of the ISI.
The increasing frequency of US-NATO attacks – manned or unmanned – into Pakistani territory, and the Bush Administration’s approval of Special Operations into Pakistan without prior sanction from Islamabad, has reconfirmed the country’s status as a safe haven for Islamist terrorists and an area of growing anxiety for the world. There is, however, still very little understanding of how heavy and sustained the Pakistani footprint has been in Islamist terrorist activities across the globe. The enormity of this ‘footprint’ is, for instance, reflected in the long succession of terrorist incidents, arrests and seizures, separately, in India, the US and Europe, in which a Pakistani link has been suspected or confirmed.
A segment of the groups sponsored and supported by the ISI – and which had long operated as its agents and instrumentalities – have now turned renegade, and Pakistan is struggling to manage growing contradictions in its continued support to other ‘loyal’ groups. The situation, in fact, is far more complex – even as the Pakistan establishment confronts certain elements of the Taliban, particularly the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), it receives unqualified support from, and extends support to, other Taliban groups, particularly the Afghanistan oriented groups who have been given virtual free rein to operate from Pakistan’s tribal areas. Relations with other groups are also complex – ‘loyal’ outfits, such as the LeT are also directly linked to the al Qaeda and the Taliban, who the Army claims to be ‘hunting down’. Indeed, it is within the spaces created for ‘loyal’ terrorist groups in Pakistan that the renegade and global terrorist organisations thrive as well. The ‘loyal’ groups, moreover, remain integral, both to the ruling establishment’s strategies of external policy projection within and beyond the South Asian region, as well as to domestic political management.
Despite America’s belated recognition of the threat from Pakistan, the US perspective remains highly qualified and fails – at least publicly – to acknowledge the duplicity of the Pakistani establishment and, instead, appears to give credence to Islamabad’s position that the tribal areas are, in fact, out of Islamabad’s control. What is missed out is the reality that the "al Qaeda mindset" has deep roots in Pakistan’s military and political establishment, despite current tactical contradictions imposed on the region by the intervention of external players. There is, moreover, no power centre in Pakistan – military or political – that can escape the imperatives of Islamist identity politics in its domestic policies and practices, even where personal convictions may contradict such politics.
With pressures escalating in Iraq, there has been a significant flow of radicalised and terrorist cadres towards Afghanistan-Pakistan, and this has already resulted in escalated pressures across the region. A further crystallization of these forces is inevitable, unless strategies to neutralize the safe havens of all terrorist groups in Pakistan, and to end the state sponsorship of terrorism particularly directed against Afghanistan and India are devised.
For far too long, external players directly impacted by Pakistan’s support to terrorism, and the use of Pakistani soil for terrorism, have allowed free rein to Pakistan’s persistent strategy and "overriding interest," as Mark Huband expressed it, "to achieve internal security by provoking instability among its neighbours", substantially through the use of terrorist proxies. Both the US and India are fast approaching elections and the prospects of new Administrations in charge. The greatest strategic challenge these Administrations will immediately face on assuming power will be the question of how to deal with Pakistan. No simple answer or crude strategy of pure force will suffice in this context. However, unless these two key nations join hands to exert inexorable pressure on Islamabad to reverse the direction of its present free fall into terrorist adventurism and anarchy, the world will confront an augmenting – and potentially catastrophic – threat of terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil.
The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) detected one Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) aircraft approaching the Trincomalee Naval Base in the night of August 26, 2008 and alerted the troops stationed on the base, who, in turn, fired at the aircraft with anti-aircraft guns, forcing the plane to flee. The tiny aircraft, however, dropped two improvised bombs on the base – one of which failed to explode – injuring 11 sailors. It was the sixth aerial attack by the LTTE's air wing since its first air raid on the Katunayake military Air Base near Colombo International Airport on March 26, 2007.
Further, replicating the October 22, 2007, combined air and ground attack by the Black Tiger [suicide wing of the LTTE] squad at the Air Force base at Anuradhapura in northern Sri Lanka, in which 34 combatants, including 14 soldiers and 20 militants, were killed and four SLAF’s aircrafts destroyed, the LTTE, in the pre-dawn hours of September 9, 2008, carried out a combined air and artillery attack over the security force’s (SF’s) Headquarters Complex in Vavuniya. While 10 Army soldiers and one Police constable were killed, seven airmen, nine Police constables and one civilian sustained injuries as a result of the exchange of heavy fire. The troops later recovered 10 bodies of militants, including five female cadres. Simultaneously, two LTTE aircrafts providing support to the artillery attack dropped two bombs, which missed their intended target, instead falling on the office area and failing to cause any considerable damage. Meanwhile, SLAF fighter jets, which had taken off from Katunayake Air Base intercepted the two fleeing aircraft and shot one down in Mullaitivu.
These incidents are an index of things to come and a pointer to the fact that, though Colombo believes it is poised for the final push to evict the Tigers from their northern strongholds, a great deal still remains to be accomplished before victory against the LTTE can finally be declared.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, in an interview on September 9, 2008, conceded as much: "Considering the arms and ammunition the LTTE have collected for the past 25 years we have to fight hard during the next few months. That is what people have to expect in the coming months." More importantly the Defence Secretary came close to accepting that the SF’s prime motive to weaken the Tigers by destroying their assets was yet to be fulfilled, reflecting a greater realism that President Mahinda Rajapakse’s claim, on September 4: "When we came into power there were only seven Provincial Councils functioning in the country. We have now increased it up to eight. We would establish the ninth Provincial Council shortly."
Now that the SFs have reached Nachchakuda capturing the Vedithalthivu, Illuppukadavai and Vellankulam areas in the coastal belt and important towns like Thunukkai and Malawi, the war has intensified, with the Task Force I operating in the Mannar side, 57 Division in the centre, Task Force II towards the A-9 road and 59 Division in Welioya and the 53rd and 55th Divisions in Muhamalai. It is also evident from the fact that even though the LTTE is losing large number of cadres, the casualties among the SFs have also gone up considerably since July 31, when the troops entered the LTTE heartland of the Kilinochchi District, and losing a total of 195 soldiers (according to the Institute for Conflict Management database). [Given Colombo’s understated accounts and erratic reportage from all the conflict zones, the actual numbers of fatalities could be considerably higher than those indicated above]. The LTTE loss in the corresponding period counts to 1,333. However, prior to July 31, the LTTE had lost 5,743 cadres as compared to 547 soldiers, in since January 1, 2008. The SFs to LTTE loss ratio, consequently, works out at 1:6.8 for the period since July 31, as against 1:10.4 for the earlier period.
With the war intensifying, civilians in the conflict zone are trapped, with at least 160,000 internally displaced persons, according to a report by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, most of them having abandoned their homes in the last three months, in the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi Districts. To cater to the needs of these displaced people, there are currently 11 United Nations (UN) and other agencies working in Wanni. Once the UN agencies leave Wanni – under Colombo’s directives in the aftermath of the Norwegian People’s Aid case, where the LTTE took control of all the assets belonging to the aid agency – the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has observers at the Omanthai entry/exit point connecting Wanni to areas in the south, would be the only agency functioning in the LTTE-held areas.
Reports indicate that the LTTE is using the entrapped civilians as human shields against the advancing troops. According to a September 8, 2008, BBC report, LTTE leaflets urged the civilians living in the areas under its control to build bunkers. "No houses should be without bunkers. Be it road junctions, play grounds, schools, business establishments, offices – in all places bunkers should be constructed as Safety Mechanisms," the leaflets instructed. Further, according to a August 26, 2008, report, the LTTE political wing leader, B. Nadesan, and its women’s political wing leader, S. Thamilini, stated that the time had come for the entire Tamil populace to fight the Government forces in order to ‘liberate the motherland from the enemy’. These leaflets were handed over to the people in Kilinochchi in response to SLAF-dropped leaflets, written in Tamil, claiming that the rebels were facing huge defeats and urging civilians to save their lives by leaving for Government-held territory. The Government is, however, hopeful that, as in Sampoor, Eethalampattu and Vakarai, it will be able to provide an exit route to the civilians, even as its troops venture deeper into Tiger-held territory
The theatre of war does not exhaust the Government’s anxieties. On September 11, 2008, LTTE militants killed seven civilians, who had gone for cultivation work and collecting firewood, at the Ethimale village in the Kotiyagala area close to the Ampara-Moneragala District borders. Earlier, on August 30, 2008, 48 persons, including two children and seven women, were injured in an LTTE-triggered parcel bomb explosion at the Bo-Tree Junction in the Pettah area of capital Colombo. After being severely hit in its effort to generate resources, the LTTE is also reported to have resorted to relatively extreme methods, with the Sri Lanka Police arresting three persons on September 6, for allegedly looting jewellery and money worth over SLR 3,043,000 in the Nuwara Eliya District and sending the money to the LTTE in the North. The LTTE has executed numerous terrorist attacks through 2008 in its efforts to divert the Government’s attention and resources, and to secure some relief in the theatres of open warfare. As many as 45 terror related incidents have been reported from Colombo alone, while the number of incidents recorded outside the theatre of war in the North-East is 67. More worrying is the worsening situation in the Eastern Province, which has recorded as many as 106 incidents so far, since the installation of the democratically elected Provincial Government on May 16, 2008.
Sri Lanka has been under a continuous state of emergency since August 13, 2005, and the Government has poured USD 1.5 billion into its all-out offensive since the annulment of the cease-fire agreement in January 2008. Colombo has also increased the strength of the Army by 50,000 personnel, an augmentation of 30 per cent over the existing strength of the Force, and has also increased the number of Home Guards by 20,000, for holding operations in the territories recently recaptured.
Despite the significant force augmentation on the Government’s side, and the steady erosion of LTTE capacities, the way forward remains difficult. Several security analysts believe, moreover, that the Tigers may be allowing the Army to move deeper into their territory before launching a decisive counter-attack. Even if such a contingency remains unrealized, the LTTE’s capacity to shift to strategies of protracted guerrilla and terrorist warfare will remain significant even in the event of decisive defeat in positional warfare. Colombo’s quest for peace through war in Sri Lanka does not appear to be slated for an early and conclusive outcome in the immediate future.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
September 8-14, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
21 persons killed and 151 injured in serial blasts in New Delhi: On September 13, 21 persons were killed and another 151 injured in a series of five bomb blasts in busy market places of the national capital, New Delhi. The first explosion took place at Karol Bagh at 6.10 pm. The next explosion took place at 6.35 pm near the Metro Station at Barakhamba Road. Five minutes later, another explosion took place at the Central Park in Cannaught Place. Two further explosions took place in the M-block Market of Greater Kailash at 6.30 pm and 6.40 pm. Initial investigations revealed that the improvised explosive devices were configured using ammonium nitrate. Four live bombs were recovered and diffused. While one bomb was found outside the Regal Cinema in Connaught Place, two bombs were diffused in the Central Park at Connaught Place and at India Gate. In an e-mail to the media, the Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the explosions. The e-mail was later traced to Mumbai.
On September 14, Delhi Police claimed to have gathered vital clues and said they were confident of solving the case soon. The Police said that the blasts were masterminded by the same group that was behind the July 26 Ahmedabad blasts, but were carried out with local assistance. Sketches of the suspects who planted the improvised explosive devices at busy commercial areas in Karol Bagh, Connaught Place and M-Block of Greater Kailash are being prepared with the help of eyewitnesses. Times of India; The Hindu, September 13-14, 2008.
Supreme Court extends ban on SIMI: On September 11, the Supreme Court further extended its interim order continuing the ban on Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) till the 2nd week of October, 2008. This is the second time the apex Court has extended the ban. The Union Government had filed a petition challenging the decision of a Special Tribunal to lift curbs imposed on the organisation. The Court has asked the Centre to place before it the synopsis of arguments and other documents in support of its stand to ban SIMI. The ruling came after the Government petitioned for more time for its probe. Economic Times, September 12, 2008.
Left-wing extremists present in 22 States, says intelligence report: An intelligence report submitted to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the left-wing extremists are spreading their presence to 22 States of the country. The extremists are approaching terrorist outfits like the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) for arms procurement. The report further said that the extremists are aiming at ‘liberating’ 35 per cent of country's territory by the end of 2009. Thirty-nine left-wing extremists groups are operating in the country with underground sympathisers and armed cadre active in 15 States, while overground supporters exist in seven States, the report said. They have, however, no presence in six States -- Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim, Goa and Himachal Pradesh. The report further said that there are over 20,000 underground extremists active in the country. Nearly 50,000 overground members and more than 100,000 sympathisers and supporters are working in various frontal organisations of the group. Times of India, September 11, 2008.
Cabinet Committee approves INR Five billion scheme to curb left-wing extremism: On September 11, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a new Central scheme for providing special infrastructure in States affected by Left Wing extremism. The meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, decided that the INR Five billion scheme will be launched during the 11th Five Year Plan. An official spokesperson said, for the current financial year, INR One billion has been earmarked. The scheme aims to provide adequate infrastructure critical to policing and security needs on the field. The Cabinet also approved creation of 48 new posts of Special Director-General, Additional Director-General and Inspector-General of Police to strengthen the supervisory structure of Central Police Organisations for better command and control. The Hindu, September 12, 2008.
Integration of People’s Liberation Army in six months, says President: President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, presenting the Government’s policies and programmes at the fourth session of the Parliament of the Constituent Assembly on September 10 said, "The integration and rehabilitation of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will be completed within next six months to take the peace process to a logical conclusion." A day earlier, however, the Nepali Congress vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel had said that the PLA can't be integrated with the Nepali Army as the former is loyal to a political party. The Himalayan Times, September 11, 2008.
Anti-Taliban offensive continues in Bajaur: At least 351 terrorists were killed in the past week in a continued air and land offensive between the security forces (SFs) and the Taliban terrorists in the Bajaur Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). On September 11, over 130 terrorists, mostly foreigners were killed as troops backed by tanks and heavy artillery attacked the terrorist hideouts. SF officials claimed that the terrorists clad as women tried to attack the marching troops, but the attack was repulsed. Taliban’s main office in Inayat Qila, nine kilometres off Khar Township, was targeted in an air strike, which also destroyed 200 shops in a commercial market. Witnesses said that the entire market was in flames following the attack, causing damage worth millions of rupees. Taliban terrorists shot dead three pro-government tribesmen accusing the victims of spying against them. The dead bodies were found on September 11-morning near a road in the Tally area.
On September 12, Frontier Corps (FC) sources claimed that at least 85 heavily armed terrorists were killed in the Inayat Qila, Loyesam, Rashakai, Kerala and Taang Khata areas. On September 13, at least 72 terrorists were killed and 25 injured as SFs carried out raids in the Loyesam, Tangkhata, Rashakai, Khazana, Banda, Glukas, Baichina and Kerala areas of Khar Tehsil (revenue division), with heavy artillery, tanks, helicopter gunships and fighter jets, destroying "several" terrorist hideouts. At least eight soldiers were confirmed dead in the offensive. By September 13, SFs claimed to have captured the "the most important" terrorist stronghold of Loyesam, forcing the terrorists to flee towards Mohamand agency. Another 30 terrorists were killed on September 14 in operations in the Loyesam, Tangkhata, Rashakai, Bi China and Khazana areas of the agency. Daily Times, September 12-14, 2008
Jalaluddin Haqqani’s close relatives among 23 persons killed in US missile strike in North Waziristan: Suspected US drones hit the house and seminary of former Taliban commander Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani in the Dandi Derpakhel area of North Waziristan, two kilometres north of Miranshah Township on September 8, killing 23 persons, including three Arab and two Azerbaijani nationals. Haqqani’s eight grandchildren, wife, sister, sister-in-law and other relatives were also killed. The Arabs killed in the attack were identified as Hamza, Musa and Qasim. One of Haqqani’s younger sons said his father and Sirajuddin were in Afghanistan at the time of the attack. "They are alive," Badruddin told in a statement. Dawn, September 9, 2008.
25 persons killed and 50 others injured in attack on mosque in Dir: At least 25 worshippers were killed and 50 others injured in a grenade-and-gun attack inside a mosque in the Maskanai area of lower Dir in NWFP on September 10. Unidentified militants lobbed hand grenades in the Sunni mosque in Banai village – less than three kilometres from the Afghan border – during Taravih prayers and fired at the worshippers. "The attackers first lobbed grenades into the mosque and then opened fire with Kalashnikovs on the worshippers," Bahadur Khan, the village nazim stated. Local official Mahmood Khan said that three grenades were thrown into the mosque and hit the last two rows of the congregation. No group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack, but Khan said last month a meeting of elders in the area had issued a strongly worded statement against the Taliban and had vowed to act against them entering the area. Daily Times, September 11, 2008.
181 LTTE militants and 16 soldiers among 204 persons killed during the week: 181 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants, 16 soldiers and seven civilians were among 204 persons killed in separate incidents between September 8 and September 14, 2008. 11 LTTE militants were killed and at least six others injured by the troops, as clashes erupted between the two sides in the Periyamadu, east of Nachchakuda and Vannavikulam areas in Vavuniya and Kilinochchi Districts on September 7. Four soldiers sustained injuries due to mortar fire and detonation of an anti-personnel mine in these areas. Separately, troops killed 10 militants while injuring nine others as clashes erupted between the two sides in the Nachchakuda, Tambalamunai, Panisaikundumadu and Vannavikulam areas of Kilinochchi District to the west of the A-9 road on September 8. The Sri Lanka military said that the combined air and artillery attack by the LTTE over Vavuniya in the pre dawn hours of September 9 killed 21 combatants on both sides. The security forces (SFs) also shot down one of the two LTTE aircrafts providing support to the outfit’s artillery attack. Further, 10 LTTE militants were killed and more than 20 others injured during confrontations with the troops in the areas north of Rumulamunai, Vannavikulam, Kariyalanmodai and Ranaikandanamadu in the Kilinochchi District. At least 19 LTTE militants were killed and five others wounded during clashes with the troops in the Akkarayankulam, Kariyalanmodai, Manirasakulam, Vannavikulam and Pannaikanthakadu areas of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts on September 11. While one soldier was killed during a confrontation at Pannaikanthakadu, eight other soldiers reportedly were injured in confrontations in Kilinochchi District. Separately, the troops eliminated another 10 militants and wounded eight during separate clashes in the Vedamakilam and north of Palamoddai areas in the Vavuniya District. On September 13, the troops killed 19 militants and injured 20 others during separate clashes in the Akkarayankulam, Vannavikulam and Nachchakuda areas of Kilinochchi District and Andankulam in the Vavuniya District. Sri Lanka Army; Daily News; Colombo Page, September 9-15, 2008.