The Terror Journal

A Journal on Terrorism and Genocide

More flee as Sri Lanka LTTE mount suicide attack

LTTETamil Tiger separatists counterattacked with a failed suicide bombing in clashes that killed at least 14 rebels and more than 1,500 refugees fled Sri Lanka’s war zone, the military said on Tuesday.

The suicide bomber, who wore a Sri Lankan military uniform, blew himself up on Monday a few meters from an army frontline in the last town held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Indian Ocean island nation’s northeastern corner.

The military, intent on crushing a 25-year rebellion once and for all, says the Tigers are cornered in a shrinking patch of jungle 30 km square (12 sq mile) along with tens of thousands of civilians the LTTE has kept as human shields.

“A soldier on the frontline in Puthukudiyiruppu observed a military-uniformed man coming toward the (line) and when he moved ahead to search him, the terrorist exploded himself,” military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.

He said no soldiers were killed or wounded. The bodies of 14 LTTE fighters were recovered after other clashes in which some troops were wounded, Nanayakkara said.

The Tigers could not be reached for immediate comment. Both sides frequently exaggerate enemy casualties while downplaying their own.

The military said fighting broke out again on Tuesday, and that another 1,565 civilians fled. That brings the total to flee the war zone over the past four days to about 4,200. About 43,000 have left since January.

Tens of thousands more remain trapped in desperate circumstances. The government puts the figure at 70,000, while aid agencies say 150,000 are trapped.

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday conditions were getting worse by the day and that shipments carrying food and medicine in and sick and wounded people out must be more frequent. The ICRC has helped ferry about 4,000 people out this year.

“Many of these people are forced to shelter in trenches. They are in considerable physical danger after being forced to move from place to place en masse for weeks or even months,” ICRC Sri Lanka mission head Paul Castella said in a statement.

On Monday, the military said troops were within a kilometer of the narrow 12-km coastal strip the army has designated a no-fire zone. Satellite imagery made available to Reuters shows the zone to be thickly congested with people.

Military commanders say the Tigers’ leadership, including founder Vellupillai Prabhakaran, are hiding among the civilians and directing their last stand from there.

That, the oncoming onslaught and the Tigers’ refusal to let people flee has puts civilians at dire risk, aid agencies say.

Since February, the LTTE increasingly has been carrying out suicide attacks on the battlefield, often as a prelude to larger assaults, in what the military calls a sign of desperation.

The Tigers are on U.S., EU, Canadian and Indian terrorist lists largely for their extensive use of the suicide blast during a civil war that erupted in 1983 as a fight for a separate state for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority.

Suicide is an integral part of LTTE dogma. All fighters on duty wear cyanide capsules to be taken in case of capture and the group invented the suicide vest, an explosives-laden jacket now widely copied by other militants groups.

Source: Reuters

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