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Training continues amid Tiger scepticism

If on the peace front the Liberation Tigers are demanding the Sri Lankan government disband Army-backed paramilitary groups in the one time battlefronts of the north and east it is a different story. Sceptical of the government’s sincerity, they are hurriedly stepping up preparations for the eventuality of a war.



Some villages in the north and east have become centres for military training for civilians, the Sunday Times reported this week. In the north the areas set apart include the villages of Nedunkerny, Kanakarayankulam, Puliyankulam and Puthukudiyiruppu. In the east several areas including Rugam and Sinna Pullumalai in the Batticaloa and Eechalampattu in the Trincomalee districts have been designated for this purpose.



Of particular significance, the Sunday Times’ Defence Correspondent, Iqbal Athas, argues is the expansion of the seagoing arm of the LTTE, the Sea Tigers.



“Whilst dredging of the sea was being carried out in the waters off Mullaitivu to Chalai, new units have been formed. The latest is the Sea Tiger auxiliary force incorporating able bodied members of families of fisherman. A 500 strong group of them is reported to be undergoing training near Mullaitivu,” he writes.



Four auxiliary flotillas, named Thiruvady, Navarasan, Johnson and Maravan with hundreds of volunteers, were organised under Thamileelam Coast Guard Auxiliary Force, set up recently by the Tigers.



Subsequent to this, the Sea Tigers’ Special Commander, Colonel Soosai, has launched a program of Deep-Sea Operations training for selected naval ratings from recently trained auxiliary flotillas.



“Our enemy is strengthening the naval strength with the intention to beat us in the seas. We have to expand the capability of Sea Tigers to keep stronger in the sea to defend our homeland,” Col. Soosai said at the inauguration ceremony last Friday.



“The enemy has been given a serious opportunity to opt for peace. We are yet to see a clear choice favouring peace from the enemy. If they don’t disarm the paramilitaries, they don’t desire peace,” he said further.



The Sunday Times also reported that in the Vanni, over a thousand civilians from the Jaffna peninsula who entered the Vanni following violent incidents late last year are being put through courses. They include weapons handling, treating the wounded, recovering weapons from the defeated enemy and evacuating casualties.



In some of the villages in the north that adjoin or overlook armed-forces-controlled areas, civilian committees have been formed. Their task is to identify infiltrators – likely to be Army-backed paramilitaries.



These Committees have been told that soon all civilians living in guerrilla-dominated areas would be issued with what are called National Identity Cards, the Sunday Times said. “Such cards would carry the photograph of the holder, his name, address and personal particulars. Committee members have been told it was their duty to apprehend persons who do not possess identity cards and hand them over to the LTTE Police.”



Another batch of the LTTE’s rural volunteers brigade graduated two weeks ago, having undergone three months of rigorous military training including handling heavy weapons.



Colonel Sornam, Commander Vasanthan and Deputy Commander of Batticaloa District Ramanan took the salute at a ceremony on March 7.



“From Sri Lankan President Jayawardene’s time, through R. Premadasa, D. B. Wijetunge, Chandrika Kumaratunge and the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, every Sinhala leadership has deceived us,” Colonel Sornam told the graudates.



“Currently President Mahinda Rajapakse has also started to follow the path of his predecessors. We are being pushed back by the government of President Rajapakse to the war front to achieve our independence.”