B. Muralidhar Reddy
Bid to run over army camp
Batticaloa overflowing with refugeesMilitary, Karuna faction undertake joint patrolling after dusk
BATTICALOA: Tamil Tigers launched a suicide attack on an Army camp in this strife-torn district on Tuesday, killing eight persons including three soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA). This comes close on the heels of the first-ever air attack by the Tigers on Monday
According to the military, a suicide bomber, aboard a tractor laden with 220 kg of high explosives, attempted to break through the barriers of the Army camp at Chankaladi. The soldiers shot the suicide bomber, setting off an explosion.
It is baffling how the Tigers brought the tractor past the security posts put up all over the district after the SLA launched its operations to drive the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam out of its remaining pockets. It would have been a disaster had the tractor made its way into the camp.
There is either a military or Karuna faction checkpost every few kilometres on the only road that leads to the town. Most camps of the Tamil People's Liberation Tigers (TMVP), the political party led by rebel Tiger leader Karuna, are located next to the SLA camps.
Batticaloa town is overflowing with refugees fleeing the Tiger-controlled areas uncleared areas in military parlance. This reporter, who went round a few camps, was told that people ran away from their homes following incessant shelling.The silence in the town has frequently been broken by the deafening sounds of shelling, by the 123rd brigade of the SLA or the LTTE, for nearly eight weeks now. Requests to the military to shift its base have been turned down on the plea that the Tiger pockets could be accurately targeted only from here.
At most places, personnel from the SLA and the Karuna faction have been deployed. Even patrolling of the city after dusk is a joint operation. The military says the Karuna faction helps it identify the Tiger cadres.
The Karuna faction functions not only as the armed wing of the military but is also the sole political force in the district for all practical purposes. The Eelam People's Democratic Front, led by Minister Douglas Devananda, has a token presence. Incidentally, the civilians killed inTuesday's suicide attack were its members.
For three weeks now, the Government has cut off all mobile connections. This followed an attack by the Tigers on a convoy of helicopters carrying diplomats.