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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 7, No. 42, April 27, 2009

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal


On the Brink, Again
Guest Writer: Prashant Jha
Contributing Editor, Himal Southasian Magazine; Columnist, Nepali Times, Kathmandu

The politics of brinksmanship has taken a new and sharp turn over the past week in Nepal. The Government’s move to seek a clarification from the Chief of Army Staff, General Rukmangad Katawal, for "his repeated defiance of civilian control", and the attempt to dismiss him, has sparked off a political polarisation that threatens to derail the democratic, peace and Constitution-writing process.

The Maoist – Army relationship, especially that between Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa aka Badal and Army Chief Katawal, has been steadily deteriorating over the past six months. Three incidents have reflected the bitter working relationship between the two most starkly.

The Army announced a round of recruitment in November 2008; the Defence Minister asked them to halt it, claiming it violated the comprehensive peace accord; the Army Chief clarified that they had recruited to fill existing positions earlier as well, and went ahead with the process. The Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) retaliated and announced its own recruitment. The case went to the Supreme Court, where a Government and its own Army battled it out. The Supreme Court ordered the PLA to halt recruitment immediately, and Nepal Army (NA), not to recruit in the future. This was followed soon after by the refusal of the Government to extend the terms of eight brigadier generals, despite a strong recommendation by the Army Chief. The officers have gone to court; a stay order reinstated them for the present, and a final judgement is expected soon. The third incident – which is believed to have made Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda personally furious – was when the Nepal Army partially withdrew from the national games when the Government decided to allow the PLA to participate.

The Maoist-led Government primarily blames Katawal for these recent controversies, for the inability of the Government and Army to work together, and for the lack of progress on integration and rehabilitation of the PLA. Against this backdrop, citing the logic of civilian supremacy, the Maoists are seeking to get rid of him. Other non-Maoist political forces – especially the Nepali Congress (NC), a faction of the Communist Party of Nepal United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), and a few Madhesi parties – see this as a move by the Maoists to cripple and co-opt the last institution capable of withstanding a total Maoist capture of the state. The President, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, – who is the Supreme Commander of the NA – has advised the PM not to dismiss the Chief, as such a move would ‘create complications’ in the peace process, and has advised Prachanda to seek a political consensus first. Most critically, the Indian establishment is learnt to have warned the Maoist Government not to touch the Army structure and chain of command. India has promised the Army that its interests would be protected in return for its support during the peace process, and sees the institution as the last defence against Maoist authoritarianism.

Hidden within this conventional narrative are complex motivations and behind-the-scene maneuvers at play. The Army hierarchy is at a particular juncture where the timing of Katawal’s dismissal or retirement will determine who the next Chief will be. If the Government succeeds in sacking Katawal right now, General Kul Bahadur Khadka would be appointed Chief and given an extension in his tenure, which otherwise ends in June. If Katawal retires on schedule in September, Khadka would be gone by then, and General Chhatraman Singh Gurung will take over.

General Khadka is learnt to be lobbying hard for the job. Some reports suggest that he has gone to the extent of assuring the Maoist leadership that if he is appointed Chief, he would pave the way for bulk integration of Maoist soldiers in the PLA and give Maoist commanders space in the command structure of the national Army. The Maoists clearly feel that sacking Katawal and appointing Khadka will ensure a pliable chain of command which would toe their line; it would also create a culture within the Army where all officers would look to the Maoists for patronage; this in turn would substantially dilute the possibility of an Army-backed alternative formation.

The Maoists did their homework. They secured the assent of Jhalanath Khanal, Chairman of the CPN-UML, before he left on a visit to China – which he has since had to cut short and rush back when a faction within his party vociferously opposed the Government’s attempted move. They spoke to the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum leader and foreign minister Upendra Yadav, who has conspicuously been silent on the matter – a silence that is construed as assent. They even reached out to Sujata Koirala, daughter of former Prime Minister G.P. Koirala, who was reportedly assured of a space in the ruling dispensation if she played along.

But what they possibly failed to anticipate – unless the intention was to polarise politics – was the extent of opposition, Indian pressure, and the role of the president.

Most leaders of the Nepali Congress and the K.P. Oli led faction within the CPN-UML feel that the Maoists have shifted goalposts after the elections and are seeking to infiltrate all state organs in a bid to establish total control. The non-Maoist parties – which have not been able to build up a real political opposition on the ground – see the Maoist logic of civilian supremacy over the Army as code for establishing Maoist supremacy over the Army.

At the time of writing, the political mood remains tense. There is enormous pressure on the Maoists to pull back from the decision. But the Maoists have made it clear that it would be untenable for them to stay on in Government, if they do not follow up after having gone this far. Prime Minister Dahal has been told by his party secretariat to push for a consensus, preferably, but not to back out from taking action against Katawal if necessary. There are also rumours that the Maoists have told their fraternal organisations to be ready for a massive show of strength in the streets.

The CPN-UML remains divided, but is learned to have come up with a compromise formula, where both General Katawal and General Khadka are asked to leave, and the third in line – General Gurung – is appointed chief. The NC is, however, rigid, and has declared that any action against General Katawal would end the possibility of co-operation from the NC to the Government.

There have also been hectic diplomatic consultations between the Prime Minister and Indian Ambassador, Rakesh Sood, who even flew to Delhi for a day to speak to his South Block bosses. The Indians are continuing to tell the Maoists that any action would invite serious costs; India would have to rethink its political support for the peace and constitution building process; and may even have to start looking for alternative political arrangements.

While there have been reports of a coup if Katawal is sacked, the Army has denied the possibility. Some Army officers may have been tempted to move in that direction, but it is difficult to see how a coup can be effectively pulled off, and how sustainable it can be, given the enveloping political climate, the reluctance of international actors to back such an adventure, and the overwhelming power of the Maoists on the streets.

What is clear, however, is that the political experiment embarked on with the 12-point agreement signed between the political parties and Maoists in Delhi in November 2005, is unraveling. The mistrust between the actors has increased, perhaps irreversibly. The NC-Maoist, Army-Maoist, India-Maoist relationships are all in tatters. The possibility of meaningful discussion on the Constitution, or even the chance of it being written in time, has dipped drastically. And while Kathmandu politics polarises, the state has become even more crippled out in the Districts, with a multitude of ethnic militants groups challenging its legitimacy.

Three years after the King surrendered power, bowing to the People’s Movement, Nepal is on the brink yet again.


Manipur: Summer Storm
Bibhu Prasad Routray
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

On April 11, 2009, the 57 Mountain Division of the Indian Army based in Manipur, along with the para-military Assam Rifles and State Police, launched a counter insurgency operation, codenamed ‘Operation Summer Storm’ in the Loktak Lake area and adjoining Keibul Lamjao National Park of Bishnupur District, located south of State capital Imphal. This first major mobilisation of troops this year ended on April 21. As the troops began pulling out, the Army spokesperson described the operation as a success, disclosing that 12 militants, all belonging to the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) were killed. The Forces also claimed to have located and destroyed five militant camps during the Operation and seized 10 weapons, including six AK-series rifles, a rocket launcher, and an unspecified quantity of explosives and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). No militant was arrested. No fatality among the Security Force (SF) personnel or civilians was reported.

Located at a distance of 40 kilometres from capital Imphal, Loktak Lake, with a catchment of 1,040 square kilometres, is the only ‘floating lake’ in the world, containing Phumdis – islets consisting of a heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matters at various stages of decomposition – on its surface. These islets have traditionally served as ideal camouflage for several militant bunkers and hideouts. According to a 2004 survey, the Lake’s catchment area also included 5.86 square kilometres of dense forest, as well as 101 square kilometres of open forest, providing escape and concealment options to the militants. Incidentally, the largest phumdi in the lake is the Keibul Lamjao National Park, spread over an area of 45 square kilometres, in the Lake’s southern part. Not just PREPAK, but outfits like the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) as well as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have, in recent years, used the phumdis of Loktak to locate themselves in close proximity to the State capital.

Inherently linked to the objective of neutralising the disruptive potential of the militants before the two-phase elections to the Indian Parliament in the State on April 16 and 22, the Operation was meticulously planned. Led by the Army, it involved 500 SF personnel drawn from the 57 Mountain Division, the Assam Rifles and Manipur Police commandos. A month-long preparation, involving the survey of militant facilities using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), had preceded the mobilisation of troops. The Operation was confined mostly to the eastern part of the Lake, covering areas such as Chingmaipat, Nongmaikhong, Arong and Khordak.

As lightly equipped commandos, supported by helicopters, marched through the area, often wading through waist-deep water, much of the success of the Operation was achieved during the early April 12 to 14 phase, when the SFs managed to kill eleven militants and destroy four camps. The 12th militant was killed on April 16. Efforts during the remaining days consisted largely of a thorough scouring and mopping up operation, aimed at tracing out any militant remnants.

Describing the Operation, with significant exaggeration, as the ‘Second Kargil War’ – the Indian Air Force had played a significant part in neutralising the attempts of the Pakistan army regulars in the Kargil region of Jammu & Kashmir – PREPAK sources alleged that the SFs resorted to aerial bombing, using helicopter gunships. The Army spokesperson clarified, however, that the SFs in Manipur did not possess any helicopter gunships, that only ‘effective’ weapons were used by the SFs, and that every care was taken to avoid civilian fatalities.

The SFs had been explicitly advised to resist speculative fire in order to prevent casualties among the women and children members of the militant families living within the camps. Firing had, in fact, been temporarily suspended on April 13, after the SFs noticed a woman and child emerging from the area under Operation. The woman was later found to be the wife of a PREPAK ‘sergeant major’. The SFs were also advised to be restrained in order to avoid casualties among the Sangai (brow antlered deer) population – a protected specie in the Keibul Lamjao National Park. The 50 odd hamlets in and around Loktak Lake are home to almost 100,000 people, and only 2,500 people were temporarily displaced from their villages during the Operation. On April 21, the Army declared that the Loktak Lake has been cleared of militant presence.

In terms of the sheer number of militant cadres neutralised and weapons recovered, Operation Summer Storm may not go down as a significant anti-militancy initiative. However, the 10-day exercise did ensure an entirely peaceful election in the State. Almost 63 percent of the voters cast their ballot in the first phase on April 16 for the Outer Manipur constituency. Another 60 percent exercised their franchise during polls for the Inner Manipur constituency on April 22.

The neutralisation of 12 cadres does not inflict serious damage on the PREPAK, which, according to a 2005 Manipur Police estimate, has a cadre / overground workers strength of 500. PREPAK is a relatively less-significant outfit, compared to the UNLF and PLA, consequently, the Operation’s ‘success’ makes little difference to the overall scenario in Manipur. Notwithstanding the claims by the Army and the Police, moreover, the ‘clearance’ of Loktak is not expected to be anything but temporary, in the absence of a plan to secure the area through a permanent SF presence. Last year, in September, the Army and Police had carried out a week-long operation on the Loktak Lake, and had killed five PREPAK cadres. That did not deter the militants from re-establishing their facilities in the area in quick time, after the SFs withdrew.

The ‘success’ of Operation Summer Storm, however, comes in the wake of steady SF achievements since the beginning of the current year. According to Institute for Conflict Management data, as many as 86 per cent of the total of 160 militancy-related fatalities recorded this year (till April 24) were among the ranks of the militants. At least 22 of the militants killed belong to PREPAK. In terms of total fatalities, Manipur remains the most violent theatre of conflict in India’s Northeast in 2009, but has reported only 17 civilian and four SF fatalities. In comparison, the first four months of 2008 had witnessed 67 civilian, two SF and 95 militant deaths. During the current year, 105 militant deaths, out of a total 139, occurred in Valley areas, entirely consistent with the trend of militancy in Manipur, which has been much more concentrated and violently manifested in the four Valley District, as compared to the five Hill Districts.

Significantly, such steady gains have mostly been achieved in small encounters and minor operations against the militants. The SFs appear to have decided to put major operations, such as the two failed troop mobilisations in 2008 to take over the New Samtal area in Chandel District, on hold, and to concentrate on surgical strikes to neutralise active cadres of the outfits. Before the Operation Summer Storm, for instance, only five major encounters between the SFs and the militants, reporting three of more fatalities, had been reported.

The success of Operation Summer Storm demonstrated a new-found synergy between the Army, the central para-military forces and the State Police. Differences in perception and strategies to be adopted against the militants had sprung up between the Army and the Police, especially after the August 2003 Manorama Devi episode. The establishment of a Unified Command Structure under the leadership of the Chief Minister in 2004 had done little to bridge this divergence. Widening the divide, the State Police had continued carrying out operations against the Kuki militant outfits, with whom the Army had entered into a ‘suspension of operations’ agreement in 2005. Such discord appears to be a thing of the past, for the moment. Manipur Police commandos were equal partners, along with the Army and Assam Rifles, in Operation Summer Storm, and intelligence gathered by the Police prior to the Operation is reported to have been extremely valuable in terms of targeting militant facilities at Loktak Lake.

The gains made by the SFs and the peaceful elections certainly herald some hope for Manipur, teetering at the brink of collapse for a number of years. Whether these can be consolidated in the months to come, or would be allowed to be frittered away, as in the past, remains to be seen.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
April 20-26, 2009



Security Force Personnel







Jammu and Kashmir






Left-wing Extremism








Total (INDIA)










Northern Areas





*The Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka Government, has suspended release of casualty figures. Media access to areas of conflict is also denied, and no independent sources of data are now available. Civilian data is based on information published by the pro-LTTE Website Tamil Net.
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Over 33 Islamist militant outfits active in the country: Over 33 Islamist militant outfits are active in Bangladesh of which only four are banned, the home ministry has indicated. The ministry is working to update information after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina twice rejected its report in recent weeks and constituted a 17-member task force to study measures to counter militancy. She reportedly demanded a fresh report on how the militants were funded, information about their networks, process of recruitment, their patrons and local and international links.

The number of militant organisations in the country might be much higher than 12, which was earlier mentioned in a home ministry report March 16, 2009, The Daily Star newspaper said on April 26 quoting unnamed home ministry sources. "The agencies are now analysing the information they gathered," State Minister for Home Affairs Tanjim Ahmed Sohel Taj, who heads the task force, told the newspaper. Sources said the intelligence officials are now preparing the report and they have identified five NGOs, which are either funding militancy or are active in militancy. The Government stepped up action after a Britain-based NGO was found to be funding a seminary on the Bhola island in southern Bangladesh where a huge cache of arms and explosives was found in March 2009. Hindustan Times, April 26, 2009.


Hurriyat Conference faction led Mirwaiz Umer Farooq gives poll boycott call: A faction of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) on April 23, 2009 issued a boycott call for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in the State saying elections have no locus standi in the resolution of Kashmir issue. Seeking to clarify the earlier statement of the amalgam about not giving a boycott call, Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said "we have asked the people to stay away from the futile exercise of elections which means that they should boycott the polls." Asked if the Hurriyat will launch a boycott campaign, he said leaders and the units of the amalgam were already out in the field trying to make people aware about their duties and responsibilities towards the "freedom movement". Umer, who chaired a two-day emergency session of the Hurriyat, said elections in the State will have no bearing on the status of the Kashmir issue as there are United Nations resolutions and international laws which hold that elections have no locus standi in disputed regions. "United Nations resolutions are clear that elections held in the State have no bearing on the Kashmir issue. Elections have been held since 1947 in the State but have failed to yield a solution. Elections cannot be a substitute to right to self determination," he added. He said there were many examples whereby elections were held in conflict zones after reaching a settlement and not before that. Mirwaiz reiterated that Kashmir was a political problem and not a territorial or border dispute between India and Pakistan which the two countries can resolve bilaterally. Last week, the Hurriyat Conference had said it will not issue a boycott call for the elections as it was a non-issue for the amalgam and will leave the decision to vote or not to vote to the conscience of the people. Daily Excelsior, April 24, 2009.


Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal provides clarifications to defence ministry: Rookmangud Katawal, the Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), submitted his clarification in writing to the Cabinet Secretariat on April 21, 2009. Katawal has stated that his actions in the capacity as Army Chief have not defied the Government's order as well as the norms and values of civilian supremacy. General Katawal defended the recruitment of 3,010 soldiers in the Army saying the army headquarters duly informed the Government, United Nations Mission in Nepal and Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee before initiating the recruitment process. On the second question regarding reinstatement of eight brigadier generals, the CoAS argued that he merely complied with the direction of the Supreme court by extending the tenure of the generals who were given retirement by the Government. He also defended the boycott of events in the Fifth National Games, in which the Maoist People's Liberation Army (PLA) had participated, by stating that the decision was taken after athletes refused to play citing last minute change in the game's tie set.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal conferred with President Ram Baran Yadav on April 22 regarding terminating Katawal from the post. Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Prachanda said Yadav advised him to seek a consensus from the political parties on the issue. Returning from the meeting with the President, the Prime Minister called for an emergency meeting of the central secretariat of his party for further discussions on the issue. President Yadav on April 21 in a letter to the Prime Minister had cautioned against taking such a decision whereby the nation would plunge into a political deadlock. Further, a meeting of 16 political parties, including a key partner in the Government coalition, the CPN-UML, concluded on April 21 that the Maoist initiative to seek a clarification from the Army Chief was against the spirit of the peace process. Nepal News, April 22, 2009.


26 militants killed as military launches operations against Taliban in Dir: At least 26 Taliban militants, including an important commander, and a trooper were killed after Security Forces (SFs) launched an operation in the Maidan area of Lower Dir in NWFP on April 26, 2009. "At least 26 bodies of Taliban were found from Lal Qila. The FC [Frontier Corps] has taken control of Lal Qila," said the SFs, after the Government decided to establish the writ of the state in areas bordering Swat. An Inter-Services Public Relations statement said, "On the request of the provincial government and the people of Dir, the Frontier Corps launched the operation early on Sunday against suspected Taliban positions in Islampura and Lal Qila in Lower Dir. An exchange of fire took place in Kala Dag and scores of Taliban were killed." It said that a soldier was also killed and four others were injured.

The NWFP Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain told Daily Times, "The situation was such that the security forces had no option but to launch an operation … the district police officer (DPO), the district nazim and other officials have already been killed and a number of troops and people kidnapped." The minister, however, said that the operation would not affect the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation 2009, and SFs were still present in Malakand. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Dir chapter, said the military operation in Dir was unjustified and against the Swat peace deal. Talking to a private TV channel, Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, the TTP spokesman for Dir, said the Taliban would retaliate to the SFs with full force. In addition, the TNSM spokesman Izatt Khan said the operation by SFs in Lower Dir is a ‘violation’ of the Swat peace deal. Daily Times; The News, April 27, 2009.

86 persons killed in FATA during the week: Five members of a family, including three women, were killed and four children sustained injuries when an explosive device went off inside a vehicle in the Smalkhel area of Datakhel sub-division in the North Waziristan Agency on April 26, 2009.

46 militants were killed and 26 injured in the four-day military operation in the Orakzai Agency, tribal and official sources said on April 23. Sources said jet fighters and gunship helicopters targeted the militants’ hideouts in Balozai area of the Kalaya Tehsil (revenue division) on April 23 at 2:00 pm, killing five militants and a civilian. A number of hideouts and bunkers of the militants were destroyed on Shawazar mountain. Several Government and private installations were also damaged during the shelling by the jet fighters and gunship helicopters on April 22. The Inter-Services Public Relations media cell said the Security Forces (SFs) had killed 11 militants in the Orakzai Agency on April 23 after striking militants’ hideouts in the Chapri, Ferozkhel, Khwajakhizar and Bizoti areas. It further said that the SFs in operations on April 21 and 22 killed 27 militants in Ghiljo Tehsil.

Nine members of a family, including two women and seven children, were killed when a house in the Storikhel area of Khyber Agency was allegedly attacked by jet fighters and gunship helicopters on April 23. Sources said jet fighters and gunship helicopters, which were busy in the operations against militants in the neighbouring Orakzai Agency, fired two missiles at a house owned by Gul Zarin, Shah Zarin and Niaz Amin in Storikhel, killing two women and seven children.

Helicopter gunships and jets targeted Taliban positions in the Orakzai Agency on April 20 killing 11 militants and injuring five others. The military operation against militants has reportedly been expanded to the Mamozai, Maidan, Jabba, Samma and Buda Khel areas. Security Forces SFs launched operations on April 19 after the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the April 18 suicide attack in Doaba in which at least 23 soldiers and five civilians were killed. Earlier, two women were killed on April 19-night as militants blew up a house in Kalaya, headquarters of the Orakzai Agency, to punish a girl and a boy in an honour-related case. The Taliban militants had reportedly planted explosives in the house of the alleged paramour of the girl where she was also living. The boy had fled the area leaving behind the girl with his parents after the Taliban got involved in the case.

The Taliban on April 20 attacked bases of SFs hours after a drone attack targeted suspected Taliban hideouts in South Waziristan. Three persons, including a woman and a child, were also killed in crossfire between the Taliban and SFs, said locals. According to foreign news agencies, the Taliban attacked at least four security check-posts. The SFs also reportedly shelled and launched air strikes against Taliban positions in Wana, killing eight suspected Taliban militants, said officials. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, April 27, 2009.


149 persons killed during the week in North-East: 110 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants, 24 civilians and 15 soldiers were among 149 persons killed in the North during the week. 22 dead bodies of the LTTE militants were recovered as troops moving past the Puttumatalan junction in the No Fire Zone (NFZ) further extended their defence line to the eastern edge of the beach virtually breaking the NFZ into two major portions, on April 21. Further, the Security Forces (SFs) killed 14 militants and injured 21 others during clashes in the Puthukkudiyiruppu east area of Mullaitivu District on April 22. Troops engaged in rescue operations at Puttumatalan NFZ in Mullaitivu District advanced further towards the southern sector close to Ampalavanpokkanai and Valayarmadam areas killing over 10 militants on April 23. Rev. Father T. R. Vasanthaseelan, the director of Human Development Centre of Caritas Jaffna, the social arm of the Catholic Church in the Jaffna Diocese, was wounded in the morning of April 23 when the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) fired shells on the Our Lady of Roses Church in Valaignarmadam inside the NFZ of Mullaitivu District for the second consecutive day, claimed the pro-LTTE Website Tamil Net. 14 civilians who had taken refuge at the church were killed in the shelling. The church is the main centre for people seeking refuge in Valaignarmadam. The SLA has attacked the church despite repeated calls from Jaffna Diocese not to target the church where 17 priests and 22 nuns were continuing to serve their congregations, the Website added. The 58th troops Division Commander Brigadier Shavendra Silva said in Kilinochchi on April 24 that troops have already captured six kilometres of the NFZ in Mullaitivu District, adding, "At least 15 soldiers were killed and about 75 injured during the past four or five days due to LTTE artillery fire. The military operation will end when we fully rescue the remaining civilians from the LTTE. And that will be the end of the LTTE." At least 40 militants were killed and 35 others wounded as troops captured Valayarmadam inside the NFZ on April 26 rescuing nearly 2,000 civilians bringing the total number of civilians rescued by the troops to 111,000 as of April 26. Sri Lanka Navy on duty in the seas off Mullaitivu confronted a cluster of LTTE attack in the early hours of April 26 and sank three of those vessels with militants on board. According to the Navy, at least 12 militants were confirmed killed and several others injured in confrontations that lasted for few hours. Sri Lanka Army; Daily News; Tamil Net; Colombo Page, April 21 - 27, 2009.

Government rejects LTTE offer of cease-fire: A cornered LTTE on April 26, 2009 announced a unilateral cease-fire, but Sri Lanka quickly dismissed the offer calling it a "joke" even as troops captured the Vlayarmadam area from the LTTE and encircled the remaining strip of land where the outfit’s chief Velupillai Prabhakaran is believed to be hiding. The truce offer by the LTTE, currently confined to a 5 sq. Km strip of land in Wanni region, came amid calls from UN, US and UK and other countries for a pause in the offensive in the northern region for the safety of civilians. The LTTE said it announced the cease-fire in the face of an "unprecedented humanitarian crisis" and in response to the calls made by the UN, EU, US, India and other countries. However, the Government said it is not taking the truce offer by the LTTE seriously and termed it as a "joke". "It is an attempt by the LTTE to deceive the world and get time for them to regroup. There is no meaning for a ceasefire at this time with a losing force like the LTTE. It is a joke," Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said. PTI News, April 26, 2009.

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

SAIR is a project of the Institute for Conflict Management and the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

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