SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Northeast India’s Assam State is finally taking decisive steps towards freedom from militant violence, at least in a vast swathe of the State’s 78,438 square kilometres area. Faced with a counter- rebellion, the oldest and the most potent outfit in the State, the monolithic United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) is on the verge of a complete breakdown. If current state projections of further erosion in the group’s capacities in the coming days hold true, the ULFA would soon be consigned to the pages of history.
For long, the Myanmar-based ‘28th battalion’ remained ULFA’s most potent striking force, responsible for a majority of the outfit’s attacks, principally in the eastern-most Districts of the State, generally referred to as ‘Upper Assam’. The ability of this ‘battalion’, divided into three ‘companies’ (Alfa, Bravo and Charlie), to engage in hit and run attacks in these Districts, remained a perennial nuisance for the security forces (SFs). It was, in fact, the military successes of this battalion that helped the outfit restore much of its battered image in the aftermath of the December 2003 military operations in Bhutan. A significant concentration of counter-insurgency operations in the Upper Assam Districts further allowed the ULFA to revive its ‘709th battalion’ in the Districts sharing a border with Bhutan and also to raise a new ‘27th battalion’, comprising of significant number of cadres, in areas including the hilly southern District of Karbi Anglong.
However, the June 24, 2008, announcement of a unilateral ceasefire by the ‘Alfa’ and ‘Charlie’ companies of the ‘28th battalion’ turned the tide decisively against the group. The decision of these ‘companies’ to announce a ceasefire was precipitated by the serious operational difficulties of movement between Myanmar and Assam, particularly after the November 2007 clashes with the Naga militant outfit, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and the early 2007 activation of the counter-insurgency grid in Arunachal Pradesh. The Assam Police played a pro-active role in releasing an arrested leader of the ‘28th battalion’, Mrinal Hazarika, on bail to negotiate with the fence-sitting ULFA cadres. Hazarika who had been arrested in 2005 from a Siliguri hotel (in North Bengal) had assured the Police top brass of his ability to win over his former colleagues. Amidst a local media’s hullabaloo over his ‘disappearance’ after being bailed out, Hazarika, within three days of his release, was able to secure a ceasefire declaration by these two companies.
Loyal lieutenants remained crucial to the top down chain of command between the ULFA’s leadership in Bangladesh and the Myanmar based ‘28th battalion’. However, in the year 2007, SFs in Assam achieved a series of successes in terms of neutralising a number of senior commanders of the outfit, making the ‘battalion’ almost a leaderless formation barely capable of sporadic acts of violence. While commanders like Charan Majhi, Debojit Konwar, Palashmoni Rajbonshi, Ulum Bhuyan and Amar Tanti were killed during separate encounters, others, including Prabal Neog and Dibakar Moran, were arrested, and Ghanakanta Bora surrendered. It was, consequently, not too difficult a task for Mrinal Hazarika, in spite of the fact that he had been behind bars since his 2005 arrest, to woo the surviving low level commanders and win them over. One of the ULFA ‘commander-in-chief’ Paresh Barua’s close confidants, Bijoy Chinese, as well as the Bravo company commander, Sujit Moran, however, distanced themselves from the pro-ceasefire group.
The ULFA chief has since issued threats to these compromising commanders. He is also learnt to have disbanded the companies of the ‘28th battalion’ by merging the ‘Bravo company’ with the remaining cadres of the ‘Charlie company’, who have not joined the pro-ceasefire group, and appointed Bijoy Chinese as the battalion commander. Barua continues to reiterate his old position of negotiating the issue of Assam’s sovereignty with the Government of India and nothing less.
Following the settlement of nearly 100 cadres of the ‘28th battalion’ in two ‘ceasefire’ camps at Champakuan and Digboi in the Tinsukia District, Mrinal Hazarika and his colleagues, including Dibakar Moran and Prabal Neog, who were released from prison in August, and Jiten Dutta, have built up a popular movement for peace in the State in the past two and half months. They have addressed local organisations, held public meetings and road shows, and also issued numerous press statements asking the ULFA top brass to change course. All these have attracted large audience across the Upper Assam Districts and have eaten swiftly into the credibility of ULFA’s recalcitrant top leadership, increasingly seen to be stubbornly and irrationally resisting the idea of negotiating with the Government. These ‘rebel’ leaders now plan to unify under a single unit and form a core group of ‘four or five persons’ to start negotiations with the Government, if the top ULFA leadership does not accede to their request to agree to talk peace ‘unconditionally’.
Both the support and the numbers of these new messengers of peace have swelled over the past month. Intelligence reports now indicate that even the ‘Bravo Company’ of the 28th battalion, which had earlier refused to join the pro-ceasefire group, is now contemplating surrender. More than 100 cadres comprising this ‘company’ are planning to make a trip from the jungles of the Sagaing Division of Myanmar through either Nagaland or Arunachal Pradesh to Assam, to lay down arms before the SFs. In addition, the ‘709th battalion’, active in Districts including Nalbari, Baksa, Chirang and Kamrup, and the ‘27th battalion’, operating in the Karbi Anglong District, have sent feelers expressing their willingness to join the peace process. On August 28, 31 cadres of the ‘709th battalion’ surrendered with arms to the authorities at Rangia in Kamrup Rural District. Authorities believe that, in the coming days, more such surrenders are bound to happen. In the event of the declaration of a ceasefire by the Bravo company, the ‘709th’ and ‘27th battalions’, the ULFA’s active cadre strength would be reduced to less than 100 cadres, principally including those who are unattached to any of the ‘battalions’ and who continue to profess loyalty to the central leadership. With the major top commanders of the outfit removed from the scene, the ability of this small band of militants to carry on the group’s activities would be negligible.
The impact of the tactical neutralisation of the entire ‘28th battalion’ is already reflecting in the diminished ability of the outfit to carry on with its activities. Assam Police records indicate that, in the post-June 24 period (till the first week of September), ULFA’s cadres have been able to carry out only six bomb attacks in the State. Two explosions each took place in the central Nagaon and western Dhubri Districts and one each in the northern Baksa and Chirang Districts. Five persons were injured when ULFA cadres detonated an explosion near Haiborgaon Railway Station in the Nagaon District on June 27. Five persons were killed and over 50 injured in the June 29 explosion in the Baksa District and three persons were injured in another explosion in the Nagaon District on the same day. Between June 25 and September 7, eight ULFA militants have been killed in separate incidents in the Nalbari, Bongaogaon, Goalpara, Sibasagar and Jorhat Districts.
The marginalisation of ULFA has also had its impact on the general level of militant violence in the State. Out of the 194 total fatalities in militancy-related activities in Assam in 2008, of which ULFA used to have a lion’s share, the months of July and August accounted for only 23 deaths. Except for three low intensity explosions in Dhubri and Chirang Districts, of which the one in Dhubri injured two persons, ULFA’s call for boycott of the Independence Day Celebrations on August 15 was peaceful.
Apart from the dwindling cadre strength, what has made a backlash or at least a flutter of reaction on part of the ULFA remnants even more difficult is the ‘management’ of the outfit’s overground organisations, such as the Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS) and some of the other individuals considered to be ULFA sympathisers. Organisations like MASS, in spite of their known history of linkages with the militants, had never been taken to task by the authorities in Assam. Taking advantage of this policy, leaders of such outfits not only became parts of ULFA-sponsored groups like the People’s Consultative Group (PCG), to carry forward ULFA’s messages to the masses, but also, in some cases, took active part in sheltering the ULFA militants and on occasions, identifying targets for the militants. On February 10 and 11, 2008, for instance, the Assam Police, following a statement by an arrested ULFA cadre, arrested Lachit Bordoloi, adviser to MASS, advocate Nekibur Zaman and television journalist Pradeep Gogoi, on charges of aiding ULFA’s plans to hijack an aeroplane from the Guwahati Airport. On June 21, Hiranya Saikia, a PCG member, was arrested on charges of colluding with the outfit. Although all these persons have been since released on bail, these arrests did send a strong signal to ULFA’s over-ground workers and clearly acted as a dampener to any possibility of an organised reaction to the latest peace initiatives.
ULFA’s complete silence on the ongoing agitation on the illegal migrants from Bangladesh has, moreover, further alienated the people of Assam from the outfit. ULFA continues to insist that not Bangladeshis, but the Hindi-speaking migrants (Indian nationals from other parts of the country) are the real source of the threat to Assam. The perpetration of nearly three decades of directionless violence and a refusal to address issues that concern the people of Assam has deprived the organisation of the popular resonances that its activities once elicited.
It might still be too early to start writing the obituaries on ULFA, though developments over the past two and half months are certainly a near-fatal setback to its existence. Paresh Barua is expected to apply his near three-decade-long experience in running an insurgency to the task of staying afloat. But, given the circumstances and the enormity of the opposition he has created against himself, this will be far from easy, even from the security of his safe-havens in Bangladesh.
The ceasefire between the Government and the two principal insurgent groups in Nagaland, the Isak-Muivah and Khaplang factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM and NSCN-K, respectively) has made extortion the dominant form of militancy-related offences in the State. Nagaland has been afflicted with an insurgency for the longest duration in Northeast India, and the conflict has, over the decades, transformed itself into a fratricidal struggle for dominance between the warring militant factions, each mobilised on the basis of sub-ethnic loyalties. Extortion and the extraction of ransoms from the civilian population has become central to the area domination exercises by each of the violent non-state actors under the façade of ceasefire-driven ‘normalcy’ in the State of Nagaland.
On January 14, 2008, three senior cadres of the NSCN-K were shot dead and another cadre was abducted by rival NSCN-IM militants in a hideout at Mingkong in the Mokokchung District, for their alleged involvement in extortion. The NSCN-IM stated that the killings were "necessary" in order to prevent "illegal collection of money in and around Mokokchung". Meanwhile, the NSCN-K claimed that the raid on its hideout and the killings were in violation of the cease-fire between the two factions, purportedly in place since December 7, 2007. The NSCN-IM, on July 5, 2008, further blamed the Khaplang faction for the rise in extortion and abduction activities and said that it was determined to flush out the NSCN-K cadres from the area and would not allow any designated camp of its rival group in the Dimapur District (such camps have been established to house cadres of the groups under the ceasefire agreement with the Government).
Previous assessments on SAIR have consistently highlighted the persistent cease-fire violations over the years. The cease-fire ‘ground rules’ stipulate the confinement of the armed cadres within designated camps, and the restriction of their movements and activities. However, the continuous ‘non-enforcement’ of such ground rules has provided free rein to the militants, who operate a "regime of extortion and abduction targeting not just the civilian population in the State, but also the transit traffic and travellers bound for neighbouring Manipur, on the National Highways passing through Nagaland". Confirming this reality, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on January 29, 2008, wrote to the Nagaland Government, broadening the definition of cease-fire violations to include, among others, extortion in the garb of collecting ‘taxes’, as well as abduction and killings for ransom. The MHA’s letter has, however, had no impact on the ground, with the state of affairs undergoing little change since then.
Sources indicate that, in the first seven months of 2008, three factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) have extracted over INR 2 billion through their extortion drives in Nagaland’s commercial township of Dimapur alone. This, by any measure, is a huge amount, especially for a State whose annual plan size for 2008-09 has been pegged at INR 1.2 billion, forty per cent less than the total amount extorted in just Dimapur.
Dimapur is Nagaland’s trading hub and the city accounts for more than fifty per cent of the State’s total trade. The NSCN-IM’s command headquarters (Camp Hebron) is located at Dimapur, which is home to over half of the outfit’s 2,500 cadres. The situation in the township and its outskirts has deteriorated further since the November 2007 creation of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Unification (NSCN-U). Backed by the Khaplang faction, most of the NSCN-U cadres are based in and around Dimapur. Apart from accentuating the general levels of insecurity and violence by engaging in internecine clashes with the IM faction, the creation of this outfit has also added to the problems of the traders and general public in the city. On May 21, 2008, for instance, a trader belonging to the Tangkhul community (the tribe that dominates the NSCN-IM faction) was shot dead by NSCN-U militants at the Supermarket area in the Dimapur District.
Naga militant groups extort money not just from all and sundry in cities like Dimapur, capital Kohima and various District headquarters and townships, the ‘tax collection’ net is also spread over almost all of Nagaland’s 1,317 villages. A conservative estimate of the annual budget of the IM faction of the NSCN alone is in the range of INR 2 billion to INR 2.5 billion. The share of the Khaplang faction and the newly founded Unification faction is much less, though in no way insignificant.
Some of the significant extortion-related incidents of the State in the year 2008 included:
January 14: The Dimapur District Police arrested two extortionists, Atai M.S and Kaphungam Angami, when they were trying to extract money from a hotel. Nine rounds of ammunition, one empty magazine, six live rounds of 7.65, two live rounds of 9-mm and two mobile handsets with SIM cards were recovered from them.
February 11: Police arrested four extortionists, including an NSCN-K cadre, and seized an AK-47 rifle and ammunition from their possession, at Dimapur.
February 13: Police arrested one person for collecting money in the name of 'Chaplee Committee' of the NSCN-U from the Supermarket area of Dimapur. He had confessed to extorting money from traders after forcibly issuing ‘demand coupons’. Two coupons in the name of the NSCN-U, some cash and a mobile handset were seized from his possession.
February 14: Police arrested three suspected NSCN-IM cadres when they were collecting money from various shops at Holy Cross junction in Dimapur.
One NSCN-IM cadre was arrested by security force (SF) personnel when he was collecting money from traders in the New Market area.
March 5: One self-styled ‘captain’ of the NSCN-IM was arrested by the Police in connection with an extortion case.
May 25: One non-local civilian was shot dead by unidentified militants near Unity College at PWD Colony in Dimapur.
May 27: A trader was shot dead by unidentified militants near Residency Colony in Dimapur.
May 27: One trader was abducted from Burma Camp Bazaar in Dimapur. Reports indicated that over 60 affluent non-Naga traders had been abducted for ransom between November 2007 and May 2008.
June 2: The Nagaland Police rescued a trader while he was being abducted by three unidentified militants at Army Supply road. However, the militants managed to escape leaving behind the vehicle in which they were transporting the trader, who was tied and blindfolded. One AK-47 along with 38 live rounds was also recovered from the vehicle.
June 13: Two persons were abducted by suspected militants from the Supermarket area and later shot dead inside the Kohima local ground. Police also recovered some demand notes of the Naga National Council’s (NNC) "chaplee affairs" (or ‘finance department’) from the possession of one of two slain persons.
July 17: The Kohima District Police rescued two drivers belonging to Manipur, earlier abducted by unidentified militants near the Kohima Municipal Corporation (KMC) dumping site.
July 26: One trader, Sandeep, was killed by suspected militants in Dimapur. The NSCN-U alleged that he was killed by five NSCN-IM cadres.
August 8: One trader was shot at, but managed to escape with two bullet injuries, in the MP Road locality in Dimapur.
August 12: One trader, Swapan Chandra Das, was shot at and wounded by two suspected militants in Dimapur.
The patterns of extortion indicate that non-Naga traders have been made frequent targets of the militants’ ‘tax net’. The Nagaland Government, in year 2007, made a study that revealed that Dimapur had 9,091 shops/ trading centres run by non-Nagas, whereas capital Kohima had about 3,778 such units. Most of the traders in Dimapur are Biharis, Bengalis, Marwaris and Tibetans. Police sources indicate that more than a dozen such non-Naga traders had been killed by the NSCN militants for ransom or over payment of extortion demands in 2008 alone. Over a hundred had also been abducted for ransom.
The commercial vehicles plying on National Highway – 39 en route to Manipur are subjected to a variety of ‘taxes’ by the militant factions with the full knowledge of state agencies in Dimapur. The IM faction has set up 26 permanent ‘tax’ collection points along the National Highway. The modus operandi of ‘tax’ collection at these points is systematic and elaborate. According to one estimate, every commercial vehicle passing through this route pays out at least INR 4,000 per trip as ‘taxes’ to the outfit. Truckers who fail to pay are often assaulted and forced to pay exorbitant ‘fines’. On many occasions, trucks have been looted or set ablaze for ‘non-compliance’. With the Government remaining indifferent, the impact of this sustained extortion is severely felt on the prices of essential commodities in adjoining Manipur, on a permanent basis.
The Naga insurgency does reaffirm the realisation that is increasingly felt over several conflict theatres that economic aggrandisement rather than mere political conviction perpetuates armed violence. The extended cease-fire agreements with both the IM and Khaplang factions provide a perfect milieu for the warring groups to carry out their extortion drives, even as the Government lacks the will to impose the law of the land, or even the minimal conditions of the ceasefire ground rules.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
September 1-7, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
CPI-Maoist backs independence for Kashmir: The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), in a Press Release on September 1, 2008, has supported independence of Kashmir and said those opposing it can never be democrats. A press release by the outfit’s spokesperson Azad called upon its cadres and the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) fighters to mobilise people in support of the Kashmiri people’s struggle for freedom. The outfit advised the people of Kashmir to come out with a slogan ‘Neither India nor Pakistan, but a sovereign independent Kashmir’. Azad also said history had demonstrated repeatedly that no nation, however small or weak, can be kept enslaved forever by another strong and mighty. The Hindu, September 2, 2008.
107 persons killed in Swat: At least 107 persons, including 56 militants and 49 civilians, were killed during the continuing violence in the Swat District of NWFP during the week of September 1-7, 2008. Five persons were killed and 14 others sustained injuries in the Swat Valley on September 7, 2008. 24 persons, including 15 civilians and nine militants, were killed and several others injured on September 5, when local people clashed with Taliban militants in the Mandal Dag area of Matta Sub-division in Swat. Sources said the local people clashed with the Taliban when the militants besieged the area to pick up a ‘Pir’ (saint) identified as Saifur Rehman.
17 militants and nine civilians were killed when security forces (SFs), backed by helicopter gunships and artillery, targeted militant hideouts in the Koza Bandai area of Swat on September 4. A military Press Release said that three key Taliban commanders — Mohammad Younis, Saifur Rehman and Ziaur Rehman — were among the dead. Military spokesman in Swat, Major Nasir Ali, said that 47 militants had been killed in two days of operation in the area. Troops have reportedly taken control of the area and are advancing to other places in the Swat Valley. Local people said nine civilians, including four children and a woman, were killed and several others injured when mortar shells hit their houses. The SFs had killed about 30 militants and wounded 35 others in a ground assault backed by helicopter gunships in the militant-infested Koza Bandai area on September 3. There were also reports about five civilian casualties, including four women, besides injuries to scores of others. Two SF personnel were reportedly killed and four others sustained injuries. Earlier, 15 persons were killed and about 35 others sustained injuries when air force jets and helicopters targeted militant hideouts in the Gut and Peuchar areas of Swat Valley on September 2. Daily Times;The News; Dawn, September 2-8, 2008.
Asif Ali Zardari elected President: Asif Ali Zardari, husband of Benazir Bhutto, who took over as leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) after her assassination in December 2007, was elected Pakistan’s President on September 6, 2008. With the PPP the single largest party and assisted by its alliance with smaller parties, Zardari was elected with 481 votes of 702 in the electoral college comprising the two Houses of Parliament and four provincial assemblies. It gave him 69 per cent of the votes in the three-way race. Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui, was fielded by the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) and Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed was a candidate put up by the Pakistan Muslim League – Qaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) party. "Today’s peaceful election marks another step towards the transition to democracy that Shaheed Mohtarma [Benazir Bhutto] was committed to. She strongly believed that a system advocating people’s rule is the destiny of Pakistan and is worth every sacrifice," Zardari said in a message after his election. He also stated "I reiterate, Parliament is sovereign. This President shall be subservient to the Parliament." The Hindu, September 7, 2008.
39 persons killed in suicide attack in Peshawar: 39 persons, including seven Policemen, were killed and more than 70 injured when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a security checkpoint in the outskirts of Peshawar. A witness said a pickup truck hit several Policemen manning the Zangli check-post on Kohat Road before it exploded. The checkpoint is situated about 20 kilometres south of Peshawar on the road leading to Darra Adam Khel and Kohat. Nasirulmulk Bangash, a top police official, told AP that the vehicle carried at least 150 kilograms of explosives – an amount he called "unprecedented" – and was apparently en route to Peshawar. The News, September 8, 2008; Daily Times, September 7, 2008.
Pakistan stops NATO supplies through Torkham border: Pakistan stopped supplies to the United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan through its western Torkham border on September 5, 2008, citing security concerns. A senior official said the measure followed increasing Taliban threats to trucks carrying the supplies. "All Afghanistan-bound supplies for the International Security Assistance Force have been stopped as the [Torkham] highway is vulnerable," said Khyber Agency Political Agent Tariq Hayat, dismissing the impression that the decision is a reaction to continued US attacks in Waziristan. A senior border official at Torkham, 58 kilometres west of Peshawar, said the closure of the highway would also affect the US forces, which get fuel, food and other military supplies through Torkham crossing points. The coalition forces also get supplies through the Chaman border in Balochistan, but the bulk of the supplies goes through Torkham – a shorter route for Kabul where the US and NATO forces are based. Daily Times, September 6, 2008.
20 civilians killed in ground assault by US commandos in South Waziristan: At least 20 people, most of them women and children, were killed in an assault by US-led coalition forces on a village near the Afghan border on September 3, 2008. The attack comes amid an increase in the number of missile and predator attacks on suspected al Qaeda hideouts in Waziristan in recent days. It was, however, the first known ground assault of its kind. According to people in Musa Neka Ziarat in South Waziristan, three US helicopters landed in the plains at around 4am, troops disembarked from them and attacked a house, killing 10 people. They said that two children, three women and five men were killed in the attack on the house of one Payo Jan Torjikhel. A woman survived the indiscriminate shooting, they said. The troops then opened fire on villagers who had come out of their homes, killing another 10 people. The victims, including three children and two women, belonged to the families of Faiz Mohammad and Nazar Jan. Payo Jan and Nazar Jan were also killed. Local people said Payo Jan and the two other families had no association with militants. There were unconfirmed reports that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops had also captured some people and taken them to Afghanistan.
However, an IASF spokesman told AFP he had no word of such a raid, and that the force does not have a mandate to attack outside the borders of Afghanistan unless its troops come under fire from within Pakistan. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to comment. The military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said in Islamabad, "In the wee hours of the morning on Sept 3, ISAF troops in two helicopters landed at a village near Angoor Adda, South Waziristan Agency, and as per reports received so far, killed seven innocent civilians." He condemned the "completely unprovoked act of killing" and regretted the loss of precious lives. He said the Pakistan Army had lodged a strong protest with the Office of the Defence Representative in Pakistan and said that "we reserve the right of self-defence and retaliation to protect our citizens and soldiers against aggression". Dawn, September 4, 2008.
ISI behind abduction of Japanese worker, alleges Afghanistan: Afghan intelligence claimed, on September 3, 2008, it had arrested a Pakistan national who said he was paid by his country’s intelligence agency to help abduct a Japanese aid worker who was later shot dead. 31-year old Kazuya Ito was abducted on August 26 in the eastern Nangarhar province, about 50km from the Pakistan border. His body was found a day later. The arrested man was named as Adil Shah and had been studying at a madrassa (seminary) in the NWFP, the National Directorate for Security said in a statement from Kabul. He said he was enlisted by the ISI and had been working with three Afghans. "Adil Shah has confessed during the investigation that the abduction and killing of the Japanese engineer was planned and implemented by Pakistan’s ISI and for that a large amount of money was given to the members of the group," the statement said. The Taliban had claimed responsibility for kidnapping Ito, who had been working in Afghanistan for five years. Dawn, September 4, 2008.
Baloch groups announce suspension of militancy for an indefinite period: Balochistan’s main militant groups – the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and Baloch Liberation Front – have decided to suspend their activities for an indefinite period. The decision was announced by Beebargh Baloch and Sirbaz Baloch, spokesmen for the BLA and BRA, while talking to journalists on satellite phones on the night of September 1. "All the three militant organisations have jointly decided to suspend their resistance movement for an indefinite period," they said. They denied that the decision was the result of any deal. "We want to tell the Baloch people and the world that we can stop the movement any time and can restart it whenever we decide to do so," they claimed. The spokesmen said that during the suspension of the movement the three groups would review the overall situation in the province and if the military operation and construction of cantonments were not stopped they would respond with full force. They warned that anyone found involved in spying against the Baloch movement would be finished. Dawn, September 2, 2008.
293 LTTE militants and 58 soldiers among 351 persons killed during the week: 293 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants and 58 soldiers were among 351 persons killed in separate incidents between September 1 and September 7, 2008. The troops clashed with LTTE militants in the Andankulam and north of Kokkuthuduvai areas in Vavuniya District killing 16 of them and injuring 19 others on August 31. Two soldiers were also killed and five soldiers sustained injuries in this incident. During another encounter in the Vannavikulam area of Kilinochchi District, the security forces (SFs) killed seven militants and wounded nine others. Three soldiers were also killed while 16 others sustained injuries in theses clashes. On September 1, 18 militants were killed and 21 others injured during clashes with the troops in the Palamoddai and Navakkulam areas of Vavuniya District. One soldier was also killed while the troops recovered the dead bodies of five slain militants along with three T-56 weapons and one communication set. 44 LTTE cadres were killed and more than 100 others wounded during two days of clashes between the troops and militants in the Malawi area in Mullaitivu District. Three soldiers were also killed while 18 others sustained injuries during these clashes. The troops, which according to earlier reports had captured the Malawi town on September 1, took full control of Malawi on September 2. Separately on September 2, during another encounter between the two sides in the Palamoddai area of Vavuniya District, the SFs killed 19 militants and injured 23 others. One soldier was also killed while another sustained injuries in the incident. On the same day, 17 militants were killed and 18 others wounded during clashes with the troops in the Nachchakuda and Kunchankulam areas of Kilinochchi District. Five soldiers were also killed while 17 others were injured. Further, 10 LTTE militants were killed and 13 others wounded as the troops captured about 400-meters of land at Terankandal in the Akkarayankulam area of Kilinochchi District neutralising an LTTE bunker line. 31 soldiers sustained injuries during these clashes. The troops recovered 12 dead bodies of militants from Padaviya and five dead bodies from Palamoddai in the Vavuniya District, two dead bodies from Trincomalee District and one dead body from the Malawi area in Mullaitivu District.
On September 3, the SFs killed 22 militants, including one LTTE intelligence leader identified as ‘Lieutenant Colonel’ Neelavan, in the Vannavikulam area of Kilinochchi District. 19 partly disfigured and decomposed corpses of soldiers delivered to the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) officials by the LTTE in the Mullaitivu District was received by the Army authorities serving Omanthai Entry/Exit point in the Vavuniya District on September 3-evening. At least 18 LTTE militants were killed and three others wounded during clashes with the troops in the Vannavikulam, Andankulam and Akkarayannagar areas of the Kilinochchi and Vavuniya Districts on September 4-morning. Separately, at least nine militants and a soldier were killed as clashes erupted between the two sides in the Akkarayankulam, Mannikkandannadu, Vannavikulam and adjoining areas of Kilinochchi District. Nine more militants and six soldiers were wounded during these clashes. 11 more partly disfigured and decomposed corpses of soldiers delivered to the ICRC officials by the LTTE was received by the Army authorities serving Omanthai Entry/Exit point in the Vavuniya District on September 4-evening. At least 14 LTTE militants were killed during confrontations with the troops in the Thalikkulam, Vedamakilam and North of Palamoddai areas in the Vavuniya District on September 5. Sri Lanka Army; Daily News; Colombo Page, September 1-8, 2008.