LTTE can no more fight like a conventional army: army chief

June 30th, 2008 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, June 30 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger guerrillas have “lost their capability of fighting as a conventional army” because of the offensive the military is waging against them, army chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka said Monday. “The LTTE has lost the capability of fighting as a conventional army. Although they are (still) fighting us, they (are) not in the same manner as was in the past. That type of resistance is not there anymore,” Fonseka told members of the Foreign Correspondents Association inside the heavily guarded army headquarters here.

The army chief, who has commandeered many military operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) over three decades, said although the LTTE’s fighting capabilities had been badly weakened, it would take another one year or so “to completely defeat them militarily”.

Claiming that not less than 9,000 LTTE cadres have been killed in clashes with Sri Lankan troops since August 2006, the army chief said that government troops “are now working on the overall plan of completely defeating the LTTE militarily”, not just capturing fresh territories.

“We do not just go for terrains, but we go for the kill. This is the difference between the military operations in the past and the present,” he said.

He added that the military had got the right guidance and leadership from President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government to accomplish its task.

A month after Rajapaksa took power, Fonseka was named commander of the Sri Lankan Army in December 2005. In April 2006 he narrowly survived with serious injuries a suicide attack inside the army headquarters in Colombo.

Commenting on the ongoing military operations in the north, the army chief said the troops had regained several hundred square km where the Tigers held sway. He said the troops were just four kilometres short of the LTTE’s strategic Sea Tiger base at Vidattaltivu in the northwestern coastal belt in Mannar district.

“I am sure the LTTE will totally lose even their present capability in less than one year. Then they will resort to totally different type of tactic,” Fonseka said.

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