Sri Lanka moved ground troops following air force raids on a “humanitarian operation” to take control of a water reservoir in an ill-defined area but controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) sparking the Tamils to declare the ceasefire dead. The Sri Lankan Government (SLG) justified its action saying that the LTTE is denying water to Sinhalese population downstream and that 100 children are sick from scarcity of water. While scores of LTTE cadre and civilians are stated to be dead in the air raid, the SLG insists that it is bombing only those places known to be occupied by the militants. Intelligence sources say that a senior LTTE ‘Commander’ of the Batticaloa region called ‘Col’ Bhanu has been injured in the air raid and no independent verification is available to confirm this claim.
A defense spokesperson said that the Army had moved within 10 minutes of the Mavil Aaru dam in Trincomalee but may take hours to secure the dam because of the mines and booby traps planted by the guerrillas but said they faced very little resistance so far. Highlighting the importance of this objective to SLG, the operation is being run by Major General Nanda Mallawarachchi who is the second in command and based out of Trincomalee. The LTTE warned that there will be “fierce resistance” and “serious consequences” if the Army moved further to open the sluice gates of the dam to release water to the 15000 families cultivating 30,000 acres of land further downstream. The LTTE closed the sluice gates on this dam on July 20 as a negotiating tool for secure water from the SLG for Muttu East and
In a letter to the Scandinavian-staffed Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) Head Major General Ulf Henricsson, the LTTE said that the continual aerial bombing and artillery attacks are akin to the Government’s declaration of war and wanted “the SLMM: to declare publicly that the ceasefire agreement is not holding any more.” Henricsson was aghast at the SLG methods saying that it is “definitely the wrong method” to get water. He conceded that the government and the LTTE had “more or less terminated the ceasefire agreement, through their actions.” The SLMM is also collapsing as the LTTE had refused to accept members of the EU as monitors since their respective nations had declared the group a terrorist organization and all three (Sweden, Denmark, and Finland) have quit the SLMM.