President to announce end of war

  • Army, Soosai’s wife claim Prabha, other Tiger leaders trapped in NFZ
  • Country’s entire coastline under govt. control; remaining area to be captured within hours
By Our Military Correspondent

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, anytime on or after Monday, will make an official announcement that the military campaign against Tiger guerrillas has formally ended.

The date of such an announcement, The Sunday Times learns, will be designated National Liberation Day to be observed every year. President Rajapaksa is due in Colombo today after a visit to Jordan to attend the World Economic Forum and the G11 summit. Also due in Colombo today after an official visit to China is Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, one of the main architects of the military victories.

The impending declaration signalling the end of war follows a major battlefield success by two Divisions of the Army – 58 and 59 – before crack of dawn yesterday. Troops of the two Divisions, during a pincer movement overnight, linked up seizing total control of the sea front that straddled the No-Fire or Civilian Safety Zone. The 58 Division had advanced southwards to link up with troops of the 59 Division.

A greater significance of this link up is the creation of history. For the first time since Tiger guerrillas launched their separatist campaign, the Sri Lankan security forces were now in total control of the entirety of the island’s coastline.After they fortified their defences along the coastline stretching some two kilometres by last morning, a further advance had to be temporarily stalled for hours.

This was because hundreds of Internally Displaced Persons, who remained trapped inside, were streaming out. The Army said some 16,000 had returned and aerial photos had shown more than 20,000 still remaining.

For the troops, the remaining area to be re-captured, a prelude to the declaration that the war or the military campaign is over, is now just over one square kilometre. Surrounded by troops on all fronts of the NFZ or the Civilian Safety Area, re-capturing the thin sliver of land, the Army believes, will not take more than 36 hours. “That is only because troops would have to move cautiously and enable trapped civilians to move out,” a senior Army officer in the Wanni told The Sunday Times. He spoke on grounds of anonymity.

With the imminent end of military campaign near, the spotlight turned to Tiger guerrilla leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and his senior commanders. The Army strongly believes they are trapped in NFZ or the Civilian Safety Zone.

In the light of reports worldwide that troops have seized control of the seafront in the small land mass that remains to be captured, Government officials and military leaders were inundated with telephone calls yesterday. Most of them were from overseas asking whether Mr. Prabhakaran had been captured together with his seniors. They had to discount such reports and say speculation he was being held until an official announcement was made is incorrect.

The Defence Ministry said yesterday that Swarnam (former LTTE military wing leader in Trincomalee) and Shashikumar master, were killed during confrontations with security forces in Vellamullivaikkal on Saturday.

Intelligence and security authorities are still interrogating the wife of Soosai, the Sea Tiger leader who was caught by the Navy whilst trying to escape together with their son and daughter. She had confessed that they had tried to leave by boat on an earlier occasion but had to call it off since there had been very heavy fighting that day. They possessed Rs 500,000 in cash and two kilogrammes of gold.

Soosai’s wife had claimed that she had not met here husband for several weeks. On the last occasion, three months ago, she has said Soosai had refused to join her and told her she could leave by boat if she wished. According to her, she had met the LTTE leader’s wife a month ago in the safety zone.

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