Author Topic: Cablegate: Ltte Strikes Again In The North, Situation Tense And...  (Read 849 times)

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Ltte Strikes Again In The North, Situation Tense And Confused In The East
OriginEmbassy Colombo (Sri Lanka)
Cable timeWed, 7 Dec 2005 11:28 UTC
Referenced by05COLOMBO2088, 05COLOMBO2108

C O N F I D E N T I A L COLOMBO 002058
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2015
     ¶B. USDAO COLOMBO IIR 6 816 0022 06
Classified By: DCM James F. Entwistle.  Reasons 1.4 (B&D)
¶1.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  Tensions remain high in the North and
East of Sri Lanka following a second Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attack on December 6 that killed seven in
Jaffna, and the murder of two Muslim fishermen in Ampara also
blamed on the LTTE.  New Army Commander Fonseka told a press
conference on December 6 that the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) will
stand firm against terrorism without rising to the LTTE's
bait.  The American demining contractor has suspended field
operations in Jaffna, but continues to train the SLA. The
LTTE claims to have killed a senior leader of the breakaway
Karuna faction and blames the anti-LTTE para-militaries for
the attacks on eastern Muslims, producing two putative Karuna
prisoners to prove it.  END SUMMARY.
¶2.  (SBU) Just two days after a similar attack (Ref A), on
December 6, the LTTE killed 7 soldiers in a second command
detonated claymore attack in Irupalai, on the Jaffna - Point
Pedro Road.  An SUV belonging to the Swiss Agency for
Development and Cooperation (local press had incorrectly
identified them as diplomats) had just passed when the bomb
exploded, destroying the Army vehicle and lightly damaging
the SUV.  Surviving soldiers ordered the Swiss aid workers
out of the SUV and told the driver to transport two wounded
soldiers to an Army aid center.
¶3.  (SBU)  This claymore attack coincides with LTGEN Sarath
Fonseka's assumption of duties as Army Commander on December
¶6.  An experienced field and combat commander, Fonseka has
many years of experience in Jaffna.  The new Army chief told
the press that the LTTE cannot provoke the Army into starting
a war, and has called for field level talks between the SLA
and the LTTE to defuse the tense situation.  The SLA is
responding to these attacks by increasing the number and
frequency of patrols rather than staying in their fortified
positions or taking their frustrations out on bystanders (Ref
¶4.  (C)  Three AmCits from RONCO, part of the Department's
Humanitarian Demining Program under PM/WRA, currently reside
in Jaffna.  Although field demining operations have been
suspended, training within the Palali high security zone
(HSZ) continues. RONCO is coordinating closely with the SLA
to asses the situation, and the civilian trainers can stay
within the SLA HSZ if it is too dangerous to travel.
¶5.  (SBU) The LTTE propaganda website Tamilnet reported that
in Ampara district on December 6, LTTE cadres ambushed a
patrol from the breakaway Karuna faction, killing four and
capturing two.  The site also claimed that "Barathy", a key
Karuna faction leader, was among the dead.  Furthermore, the
site claimed that the captives confessed to the November 18
grenade attack on the Akkaraipattu mosque and to other
anti-Muslim killings in Ampara district (Ref A). (NOTE: These
confessions were likely obtained by torture.  End note.)
¶6.  (SBU) On December 6, the towns of Muttur in Trincomalee
district and Kalmunai in Ampara District were under a hartal
(general strike) after two Muslim fishermen were found
machine gunned to death in Ampara district.  Members of the
Muslim community, along with police, suspect the LTTE of
killing the fishermen. Muslim crowds are reportedly enforcing
the hartal by throwing stones at vehicles and pedestrians
that dare to pass by.
¶7.  (C)  COMMENT:  The death toll has climbed to 17 soldiers,
the highest for the SLA since the cease-fire, in less than a
week.  This increases pressure on the new government and the
SLA commander.  LTGEN Fonseka has proven his cool under fire,
but it is unclear if the foot soldiers will continue to
remain equally disciplined.