7:00 AM

SF Rescue Mission --- Similar to English Action Film

On July 29, a six man team of Army Special Forces, who were engaged in a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Mission (LRRP) were detected by members of the LTTE’s civilian militia deep inside LTTE territory between Mankulam and Kokavil.

Special Forces commandos easily neutralized the civilian militia, but soon a large number of Tiger cadres were dispatched to comb the jungles looking for the SF men. Two commandos were killed in a firefight and two others wounded. Commandos were forced to leave behind a body of a slain comrade during their withdrawal. Four men trekked 25 kilometres, dodging the guerrillas while carrying the body of a dead comrade.

The Special Forces Commander called for air support to rescue the four valiant men. A Bell 212 and a MI 24 attack helicopter took off from Anuradhapura Air Force Base. They flew hugging the thick jungle canopy of the Wanni, occasionally firing countermeasure flares to avoid LTTE’s Manpad.

Four Special Forces men were awaiting the rescue helicopter. After having secured a landing site, one of the men lit a fire as the helicopter approached and alerted the crew of their location. As the Bell 202 landed, the four men jumped on board. Half an hour later the helicopter landed at the Anuradhapura Air Base and the two wounded soldiers were rushed to the Anuradhapura Hospital.

This was not the first time the SLAF carried out rescue missions of this nature. On November 20, last year, an eight-man team of army commandos who were engaged in a LRRP mission in Periyamadu, twenty kilometres inside Tiger territory were detected by the LTTE. The LTTE had stepped up security on the eve of the approaching Mahaveer commemorations.
An army commando was injured after he stepped on an anti-personnel mine. The team sought air support to evacuate the injured soldier.

Torrential rains held off the rescue mission for two days. On 22 November, eight men were evacuated by a Bell 202 helicopter. This time round, the SLAF decided to release a video of the rescue mission which has been posted on the defence ministry website.