SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
With the 58th Division troops entering the Government designated new No Fire Zone (NFZ) in the early hours of April 20, 2009, capturing a three kilometre-long Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)-built earth bund in the Putumattalan and Ampelavanpokkanai areas of the NFZ in Mullaitivu District, and liberating some 39,081 civilians, Eelam War IV entered into its final phase.
The Cabinet Spokesman, Information and Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, declared, on April 30, 2009, that the Security Forces (SFs) had already liberated between eight or nine kilometres of the 12 kilometre-long NFZ. Meanwhile, President Mahinda Rajapakse, on the same day, declared that the Government’s aim was to liberate the remaining civilians inside the NFZ within the ‘next five or six days’.
Notably, Colombo had demarcated an estimated 20 square kilometres of a new NFZ with a varying breadth of one to two kilometres along the Mullaitivu western coast with effect from February 12, 2009. Earlier, the Government had, on January 21, 2009, designated a 32 square kilometre NFZ – eight kilometres in length and four kilometres in breadth. However, the LTTE rejected the provision with contempt, moving its heavy artillery batteries and mortars into the NFZ, using civilians huddled in the area as a shield against military action by the SFs.
The United Nations (UN) and foreign Governments have been putting immense pressure on Colombo to halt military operations, as reports emanating from the NFZ indicate large numbers of civilian casualties inside the NFZ. In any realistic scenario, the NFZ could not, in fact, have remained a safe zone, as it falls on the line of the Army’s advance and its capture was necessary for the logical conclusion of military operations against the LTTE in the North.
According to an April 30, 2009, Tamil Net report, the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party’s Trincomalee District Member of Parliament, R. Sampanthan, and parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran, told the visiting British Foreign Secretary David Miliband that 7,000 Tamils in Wanni had been killed and 14,000 injured in the preceding three months. The TNA parliamentarians also told Miliband that more than 300 Tamil youth in the Vavuniya detention centre had been arrested by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and that the SLA has not revealed the whereabouts of these detainees to their parents.
Earlier, on April 25, The Times of India reported that at least 6,432 civilians had been killed in intense fighting over the preceding three months, and that 13,946 had been wounded, according to a private United Nations (UN) document circulated among diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka. Casualties were reported as "verified data" in the document. The UN has declined to publicly release its casualty figures and had no immediate comment on the document. The level of civilian deaths increased dramatically as the fighting wore on, according to the UN. An average of 33 civilians were killed each day at the end of January, a number that jumped to 116 by April, it said. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal database, fatalities among civilians in Mullaitivu since January 1 stood at 3,905. A total of 2,285 militants and 1,288 soldiers had also been killed in the fighting. (SATP data is currently primarily based on figures released by the pro-LTTE Website Tamil Net, since the Government is not releasing figures regarding civilian and SF casualties in the region. There can be no independent confirmation of data, as media access is denied in the conflict zone).
The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) claimed, further, that conditions had deteriorated in the conflict zone in recent days. "The fighting is too close to civilians, who are too often killed or wounded", ICRC spokesman Simon Schorno stated on April 23, 2009, adding, "There have been hundreds of dead and wounded in recent days." Of the 400 people the ICRC managed to evacuate on April 22, the majority were seriously wounded.
Under immense pressure from the international demand and, crucially, from an election-bound India urging an immediate cease-fire, Colombo – which had earlier rejected the April 26, 2009, LTTE announcement of a unilateral cease-fire – on April 27 declared that ‘combat operations’ against the LTTE had reached their conclusion and that troops had been instructed to end the use of heavy weapons, which could harm the civilian population. However, rescue missions to free the remaining estimated 20,000 civilians would continue. The Director-General of the Media Centre for National Security, Lakshman Hullagulle, stated, "There is no ceasefire. The Government will go ahead with their operation to get the civilians out of the 'No Fire Zone', who are being held hostage by the LTTE." Quite noticeably, the SFs had already ceased using heavy calibre guns, combat aircraft and aerial weapons since April 20, when they entered the NFZ.
Commenting on Colombo’s decision, the noted former Indian military intelligence official, Colonel R. Hariharan clarified that "the war has not ended with the latest Sri Lanka announcement. The operative words in the statement indicating future course of action is: 'Our security forces will confine their attempts to rescuing civilians who are held hostage and give foremost priority to saving civilians.’ In Sri Lanka's official parlance that means the war would continue because it has always claimed that the objective of the war is to liberate the people held hostage by the LTTE. So the war would continue probably at a slower pace, perhaps less dramatically, provided the LTTE can still sustain (itself)."
Meanwhile, Government sources put the total number of civilians still trapped inside the NFZ anywhere between 15,000 and 20,000. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told a news conference in Colombo on April 23 that the Government’s assessment of the number of civilians inside the NFZ was based on its own inputs and the statements made to the military by the LTTE media wing in-charge, Daya Master, who surrendered on April 22. Significantly, on February 11, 2009, the Government had claimed that over 32,500 civilians, out of a total population of 113,832 in the Mullaitivu District, had fled the un-cleared areas (areas not under Government control) and sought protection with the SFs. If that data is to be believed, the number of civilians remaining in LTTE-held area as of February 12, 2009, should be about 81,332. However, an April 28, 2009, The Hindu report, quoting Government sources, reported that over 180,000 civilians who were held hostage by the LTTE had been rescued since January 2009 – well over the 113,832 total population claimed by the Government. Of them, nearly 115,000 were freed since the beginning of the rescue mission that begun on April 20, 2009. A close analysis of the data provided by the Government at different stages would suggest at least some obfuscation, and the fact that Colombo is eager to keep estimates of the civilian population trapped in the NFZ low. Significantly, on April 29, the UN Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, addressing a Press Conference in New York, asserted that about 50,000 people were reported to be trapped in the combat zone.
Whatever the precise numbers, with a large body of civilians still trapped inside the shrinking war zone, the terminal stages of the conflict are bound to get bloodier. The Tigers, for whom civilians are part of their concept of war, are not going to let non-combatants flee. The more the civilian casualties, the greater the opportunities to draw international attention through the LTTE propaganda machinery, which still seems to be intact, in turn putting pressure on Colombo to stall military operation. Any diminution of military pressure would create opportunities to get as many LTTE leaders and experienced operatives out of the tiny NFZ in the northeast. Reports also indicate that the LTTE leadership, including Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, is getting ready to flee the country. Six high powered boats and another five boats packed with ration packets are believed to have been prepared, awaiting the opportunity to break through the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) blockade. However, SLN surveillance to track LTTE movements remains intense round the clock and there has been an augmentation of the presence of its small craft in the seas off the North-east coast. Since April 1, 2009, the SLN has foiled five attempts by the Sea Tigers (the sea wing of the LTTE) to break through the blockade, killing 85 militants and destroying 15 LTTE boats. Meanwhile, Tamil Net claimed on April 29 that at least 350 soldiers had been killed and over 700 injured, as heavy fighting erupted between the troops and militants in the area north of Mullivaaykkaal in the NFZ, demonstrating that the Tigers, though cornered, with their conventional military capability lost, still have their command and control system intact, and consequently retain significant residual capacities to inflict damage.
Colombo appears to be determined to carry the military operations to a decisive victory. On April 30, President Rajapakse declared, "The Government is not ready to enter into any kind of cease fire with the terrorists. It is my duty to protect the people of this country. I don’t need lectures from western representatives.’’ Earlier on April 29, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse had told British Foreign Secretary David Miliband that troops and civilians had perished in the conflict and, therefore, the Government was determined to finish off the LTTE." The Island newspaper quoted Rajapakse as telling Miliband, further, that, ‘the only person who could stop this war is the President of Sri Lanka. The military had orders to either capture or destroy Prabhakaran and other LTTE leaders.’
The war is now in its penultimate moments, but it remains to be seen how clear the outcome will be. If the Tiger leadership, and particularly Prabhakaran, succeed in slipping out of the SF cordon, the spectre of an LTTE revival, however partial, will loom large once again, and Sri Lanka will remain under the shadow of violence.
The Dimasa Insurrection
The Dimasa insurrection is currently the dominant among the ‘peripheral’ insurgencies in Assam. The State is presently the second most violent in the Northeast, with 113 fatalities in the first four months of 2009, trailing behind Manipur, with 167 killed. South Assam has, over the years, been the major hunting ground for armed Dimasa groups, but parts of Manipur and Nagaland have experienced at least some of the ‘overflow’ of a conflict that rages along ethnic faultlines that lie across provincial borders in the troubled region.
The Dima Halim Daogah (DHD), at that time the most active of the Dimasa groups seeking to create a separate autonomous homeland (Dimaraji) for the tribe, entered into a cease-fire agreement with the Union Government in January 2003, resulting in hopes for peace in the North Cachar (NC) Hills and adjoining areas. These high hopes were, however, quickly dispelled with the formation of the Black Widow (BW) group, when a section of the DHD militants, under the leadership of Jewel Garlossa, broke away from the parent outfit in March 2003. Since then, BW militants have engaged in widespread subversion and violence in NC Hills.Fatalities involving BW in Assam, 2005 - 2009
Source: SATP Database
The violence unleashed by the BW group has shown a continuous increase over the past years, and the trend has taken an abrupt turn for the worse, with annual fatalites involving the group spurting from 20 in 2006 to 61 in 2007. The momentum for the acceleration of violence has since been sustained.
With just 150 cadre, the BW group has been responsible for at least 24 of the 113 fatalities in Assam in 2009 [10 civilians, 11 Security Force (SF) personnel and three militants], compared to the 46 fatalities inflicted by the frontal militant formation in the State, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), according to the SATP database. While there is a marginal increase in the number of fatalities involving the Dimasa group during the first four months of the current year, as compared to the same period in 2008, there has been an almost four-fold increase in SF fatalities. In a major ambush on April 20, 2009, BW militants shot dead six persons, including five SF personnel, who were escorting a 20-truck convoy of the private cement company at Panimur Kalanala under Doyangmukh Police Station near the industrial town of Umrangsu in NC Hills. The increasing incidence of ambush of the SFs is part of wider acts of sabotage of the economic infrastructure and development projects in the hilly District.
The railway communication network has been the most frequent target of the BW, with frequent bomb and gun attacks resulting in disruption of the public transport service. On January 4, 2009, three bogies of a goods train coming from Badarpur to Lumding were derailed and around 40 metres of track damaged, when suspected BW militants triggered a bomb blast on the track between Harangajao and Mailongdisa railway stations. Three months later on April 10, 2009, one Central Reserve Police Force constable was killed and 17 persons, including two women and two children, were injured when the BW militants opened indiscriminate fire on the Badarpur-Lumding Barak Express train near Wadrengdisha between Haflong and Maibong railway stations. Again, on April 11, 2009, two Special Police Officers were killed and another was injured when the BW militants attacked a goods train at Dijaodra under Langting Police Station. A number of other attacks on the Railways, with no fatalities, have already been executed by BW this year.
Oil exploration exercises, at nascent stage in the State, have become another target of Dimasa armed groups in the NC Hills District. A Chennai-based undertaking, Indian Oil Tanking Limited, temporarily suspended its seismic survey operations following the reported abduction of four surveyors by suspected militants from the work site at Langting under Maibong Police Station in the evening of February 5, 2009. While the Police had initially suspected the involvement of the BW group, subsequent reports mention that the proprietor of the oil company, Ashok Saikia, disclosed that the leader of a relatively new group – the Dimasa National Liberation Front – identifying himself as Bret Lee, claimed responsibility for the abduction of the surveyors. Later Ashok Saikia revealed that the abducted employees were released unharmed on February 19. There was no disclosure of whether a ransom had been paid. While ransom is one of the motives for such actions, it is the wider publicity attached to such attacks that is the principal driver.
Ethnic strife adds another dimension to Dimasa violence in south Assam. On April 30, 2009, at least 10 persons belonging to the Dimasa tribe were killed and 16 others sustained injuries when an armed group representing Zeliangrong community of the Naga tribe, Naga Youth Front, attacked them at Yekulua village between Boreneu and Guilong at Haflong in NC Hills District. 25 houses of the Dimasa people were also set ablaze in the attack, which was carried out in retaliation to the killing of nine persons belonging to the Zeme sub-tribe of the Zeliangrong community by BW militants in the same District on April 28, 2009. Meanwhile, Police sources mention the role of a third player, most probably of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), was also suspected in the attack on the Dimasas. A month earlier, as many as 345 people fled from eight villages of the Haflong area in NC Hills District, and took refuge in the Tousem Sub-Division in the Tamenglong District of Manipur, following the killing of five persons by BW militants on March 6-8, 2009. These cycles of killings evoked strong resentment among several Naga community organisations led by the Naga Hoho (apex tribal council), who asked the BW to immediately stop atrocities against the Naga people in the NC Hills District or face a backlash.
The BW militants also engage in fratricidal strife with the ‘pro-talks’ DHD group. On January 26, 2009, a DHD cadre was killed and another injured when rival BW militants opened fire on them near Digandu under Doyangmukh Police Station. In a similar incident on February 12, 2009, another DHD cadre was shot dead at Khalimindisa under Maibong Police Station. The BW group has also, on occasion, targeted parents of its former cadres to settle score with surrendered militants. On March 6, 2009, suspected BW militants killed the parents of two of their former cadres in two separate places at Jaramdisa Thaijuary under Doyangmukh Police Station and Prasadindik under Maibong Police Station. The victim’s sons had deserted the outfit a week before the attacks. Two days later on March 8, 2009, BW militants shot dead the father of another former cadre in the Gunjung area of Haflong. The slain man’s wife also sustained injuries in the gun attack. Family members of BW militants have also been targeted in the on going intra-ethnic strife. In one such incident on March 28, 2009, unidentified militants shot dead the mother of a BW cadre at Vidingpur Dimasa Basti under Maibong Police Station.
While the BW did not give a boycott call for the Parliamentary elections held on April 16, 2009, in the NC Hills, which falls under the Autonomous District Parliamentary Constituency of Assam, the group did target Government officials engaged in the polling process. On April 8, 2009, for instance, a convoy of Election Commission observers was ambushed by its cadres at Jungum under Haflong Police Station, causing damage to the vehicles.
The Dimasa outfit has not confined itself in NC Hills, and has not only operated in the adjoining District of Karbi Anglong, but also in the relatively distant Guwahati city, with its links with the ULFA. Beyond Assam, BW has used NSCN-IM camps in Nagaland to procure arms and ammunition from Myanmar.
Densely forested and hilly terrain, coupled with persisting weaknesses in the Police administration continue to cripple counter-insurgency (CI) efforts. The NC Hills have a police-population ratio of a relatively healthy 175 per 100,000 (the Indian average is 125 per 100,000), but the ratio to area is abysmal, with just seven Policemen per 100 square kilometers (the Indian average is 45). Despite the presence of 55 companies of troops belonging to the Army, Paramilitary and State Police in NC Hills, CI operations have not been able to counter the disruptive activities of the militants. Six reserve forests and vast stretches of unclassified forest areas account for 4,630 square kilometres – roughly 95 percent of the District’s territory – make the hilly District impossible to control for the thinly spread SFs. The entire District is administered by just four Police Stations and seven ‘non-sanctioned’ Police outposts. Vast stretches of the District’s territory thus remain entirely un-policed, giving unfettered freedom of operation to the militants. With, at best, a nominal presence on the ground, the Police and SFs have been unable to develop credible channels for gathering actionable intelligence. An unnamed Assam Rifles official, currently engaged in CI operation targeting the BW group in NC Hills, pointed out, "We only get chances to chase these guerrillas after either a shootout or a blast triggered by them. We hardly get genuine intelligence inputs about the rebels’ plan beforehand."
The response to the spiralling violence unleashed by the Dimasa groups has been limited to the shuffling about of companies of Central Paramilitary Forces, who have little acquaintance with the terrain and demography of the region. With the augmentation of local Police capacities remaining a low priority, there is little scope for the successful containment of the Dimasa insurgency.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
April 27- May 3, 2009
Substantial rise in infiltration from Pakistan, says Army chief: Infiltration of terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir, helped by the Pakistani establishment, has increased substantially, with March 2009 recording the highest influx as compared to the corresponding month in the last seven years. The Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, said in New Delhi on April 28, 2009, that there was information about more militants preparing to infiltrate into India and that his force has "refined" the pattern of deployment to foil these attempts. "As far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, infiltration has increased in March because of the elections being held there and to disrupt the electoral process in the State," he told reporters. "The figure up to March 31 says that 54 terrorists have come into Jammu and Kashmir," Gen Kapoor added. The infiltration has increased both in terms of quantity and quality, considering the weapons brought by terrorists, sources said. "It cannot happen without the conscious decision of the establishment in Pakistan," they added. Daily Excelsior, April 29, 2009.
Nepalese Army Chief dismissed: The Maoist-led coalition Government removed the Chief of Army Staff, General Rookmangud Katawal, on May 3, 2009. The major coalition partner, the Communist Party of Nepal (UML), has consequently withdrawn support to the Government. Two weeks ago, the Government asked for a clarification from General Katawal, saying he violated its orders on three issues — recruitment in the Nepalese Army, extension of eight Army brigadiers’ tenure, and the Army’s withdrawal from six events in which it had to play against the People’s Liberation Army (the Maoists’ Army) in the Fifth National Games. The Government felt that the Army Chief disregarded civilian supremacy and challenged the Maoist-led Government. The Defence Ministry gave General Katawal 24 hours to clarify. Two weeks later, the Government concluded that the clarification General Katawal submitted was not satisfactory and a Cabinet meeting on May 3 decided to dismiss him.
Government spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara told reporters that "Until an arrangement is made, General Kul Bahadur Khadka will work as acting Army Chief." The Cabinet meeting was boycotted by several parties, including the CPN-UML, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and the Sadbhavana Party Nepal, supporters of the coalition Government that was formed in August 2008, saying it was the Maoists’ decision alone. Later, the UML’s central committee meeting decided to pull out from the Government. The Hindu, May 3, 2009.
137 Taliban militants killed during military operations in Buner District: Brigadier Fayyaz Mehmood Qamar, who is in-charge of military operations in the Buner District of NWFP, said on May 3, 2009, that the operations would be completed within a week. Briefing the media at the District headquarters, Daggar, he said Security Forces (SFs) killed 27 suicide attackers on May 2, 2009. Three SF personnel were also killed in the operation. SFs had earlier killed 60 Taliban militants in the Buner District of NWFP over the preceding 24 hours, as helicopter gunships shelled suspected hideouts, Daily Times reported on May 2. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, "Nearly 55 to 60 Taliban have been killed over the last 24 hours in the Buner operation." He informed the media that two Frontier Corps personnel had also been killed and eight injured in the operation, which entered its fourth day on May 1.
Earlier, troops took control of the main Daggar town, headquarters of Buner, on April 29, after being dropped by helicopters behind the Taliban lines, killing over 50 militants in two days of fighting. Troops operated on three axis – Ambaila, Malandar and Karakar – military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told reporters in Rawalpindi. "Two high-value targets — Maulvi Shahid and Qari Quresh — are among the 50 militants killed so far in Buner, when gunship helicopters targeted militants’ positions during the operation launched on Tuesday afternoon," Abbas stated. "The security forces are facing stiff resistance, particularly around Ambaila heights," a key gateway to the mountainous region where the Taliban detonated three roadside bombs, he said. The military estimated some 500 militants were in the Buner Valley and that it might take a week to clear them out. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, April 30-May 4, 2009.
TNSM rejects Darul Qaza appellate court set up by the NWFP Government: The banned Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) – which had promised to ensure peace in Swat District in return for the establishment of Sharia (Islamic courts) – on May 3, 2009, rejected the Darul Qaza appellate court set up by the NWFP Government. Ameer Izzat Khan, the chief spokesman for TNSM chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad, said the Government had acted unilaterally in establishing the Darul Qaza and had violated the peace agreement. He said it had been decided in a May 1 meeting between the provincial Government and TNSM in Timergara, that the former would first announce an end to the operations in Malakand following which the Taliban would declare a cease-fire.
Meanwhile, the Swat peace deal stands dissolved and the militants present in Swat, Matta, Kabal and Sangla as well as their commanders have asked for permission to fight everywhere, sources told The News on May 3. "Our peace agreement with the NWFP government practically stands dissolved," confirmed Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Swat chapter of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. Security Forces (SFs) are attacking us and our fighters are also retaliating, he said. Daily Times; The News, May 4, 2009.
Next two weeks critical to Pakistani Government’s survival, says CENTCOM chief General David Petraeus: Commander of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, has told American officials that the next two weeks are critical to determining whether the Pakistani Government will survive, FOX News reported on April 30, 2009. "The Pakistanis have run out of excuses" and are "finally getting serious" about combating the threat from Taliban and al Qaeda extremists operating out of northwest Pakistan, he added. But Petraeus also said "we’ve heard it all before" from the Pakistanis and he is looking to see concrete action by the Government to destroy the Taliban in the next two weeks before determining the United States’ next course of action. The News, May 2, 2009.
75 militants and ten soldiers killed during military operations in Lower Dir District of NWFP: The Inter-Services Public Relations Director General, Major General Athar Abbas, told a news conference in Rawalpindi on April 28, 2009, that the military operation in Lower Dir District of NWFP, which started on April 26, had been completed. "The operation in Dir has successfully been completed, during which 70 to 75 militants were killed," he said. Ten personnel of the Security Forces were also killed during the operation. He said over 300 militants had started entering Lower Dir on April 2 and 3. Despite warning from the Government officials, they did not stop their unlawful activities, he added. "They were involved in kidnapping for ransom, killing Police and other security officials and other unlawful acts," he said. He also said no foreign militant was found during the Dir operation. Daily Times, April 29, 2009.
957 persons killed during the week in North-East: 491 civilians, 350 soldiers and 116 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants were among 957 persons killed in the North-East during the week. More than 200 civilians were killed as the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) fired at least 2,600 Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher rockets, more than 1,000 artillery shells and at least 2,000 heavy mortar shells from 6:00 pm on April 27 till 11:00 am on April 28, the pro-LTTE Website Tamil Net reported. Most of the shells fired by the SLA hit civilian shelters in Mullivaaykkaal, Thaazhampan, Ottaippanaiyadi and Iraddaivaaykkaal areas. In addition, the Sri Lanka Air Force attacked Ottaippanaiyadi and Iraddaivaaykkaal areas with cluster bombs, the report further claimed. Troops continued their push towards the last LTTE hideout in the No Fire Zone (NFZ) in Mullaitivu District killing 12 militants, while injuring 27 others, the Defence Ministry said on April 27. The Ministry also said the LTTE had intensified violence against civilians, with a renewed hope of survival. 35 militants were killed as clashes ensued between the Security Forces (SFs) and the LTTE in south of Rektavaikkal in Mullaitivu District on April 28.
At least 350 soldiers were killed and over 700 injured as heavy fighting erupted between the troops and the LTTE militants in the area north of Mullivaaykkaal in the NFZ in Mullaitivu District on April 29, said a Voice of Tigers radio broadcast, according to Tamil Net. The fighting erupted after two days of heavy attacks by the SLA, which has attempted to advance towards Mullivaaykkaal, the report added. The military continued its operation inside the NFZ in Mullaitivu District on April 29, killing several civilians, claimed Tamil Net. Rescue workers recovered 160 dead bodies of civilians from the area north of Mullivaaykkaal in the morning April 29. Around 150 civilians were feared killed after 4:00 pm (SLST) on the same day, the rescue workers stated further. On April 29, Naval troops patrolling the North Eastern seas foiled a LTTE attempt to breach its first defence line, killing 28 Sea Tigers (cadres of the sea wing of the LTTE), including three female Sea Tiger leaders, identified as Manparithi, Ariyu and Manmadhi, in the sea off Mullaitivu, Navy spokesman Captain D.K.P. Dassanayake disclosed. The Navy Special Boat Squadron confronted six boats, including four suicide craft, launched from Vellamullivaikkal in the southern part of the NFZ for hours from 4.30am. All the boats were destroyed in the operation. At least 66 civilians were killed as the SLA stepped up artillery, mortar and Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher fire on Mullivaaykkaal village during the preceding 48 hours, Tamil Net reported. While 39 of the 200 injured civilians admitted at Mullivaaykkaal hospital died on April 30, another 27 civilians among the 110 injured admitted at the hospital died on May 1.
The Sri Lanka Navy destroyed two suicide boats and an attack craft, killing at least 23 militants in the seas off Mullaitivu on May 1. 64 civilians were killed and 87 others injured as the SLA twice attacked the only remaining makeshift hospital at Mullivaaykkaal in the NFZ of Mullaitivu District on May 2, reported Tamil Net. Two artillery shells fired by the SLA hit the hospital at around 9:00, am killing 23 and injuring 34, while several shells that were fired later at 10:30 am killed 41 civilians and wounded 53. Sri Lanka Army; Daily News; Tamil Net; Colombo Page, April 21 - 27, 2009.