5:59 AM

Call to surrender arms first

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that a ceasefire would solely depend on the LTTE’s readiness to lay down arms. He said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had repeatedly emphasised that fresh negotiations

wouldn’t take place as long as the LTTE remained armed. "There’ll be no change in our position," he told News-lanka yesterday.

He said that the LTTE political wing leader Nadesan had conveniently forgotten the LTTE quitting talks in April 2003.

"We abrogated the ceasefire years later," he said adding that the ground offensive was on track with the army making steady progress.

5:57 AM

STF confident of meeting LTTE threat in East

A series of hit and run attacks in the east, particularly directed at the renegade Karuna faction has prompted Army headquarters to review security measures in place to meet the LTTE challenge.

The army top brass has expressed serious concern over what a security official called an alarming increase in LTTE activity. LTTE infiltrators have claimed the lives of a dozen Karuna loyalists in the recent past.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that action was being taken to neutralise the threat. "They are operating in small groups trying to cause panic," he told News-lanka yesterday. He speculated on the possibility of the presence of sleepers awaiting orders to launch operations.

With the army pulling out bulk of the infantry and support units for operations on the Vanni front, the Special Task Force (STF) has had to play a pivotal role in anti-insurgency operations in the East.

STF Commandant DIG K. M. L. Sarathchandra told News-lanka that the LTTE was making a desperate bid to make its presence felt in the East.

He said some of the infiltrators had been killed and their arms, ammunition and equipment recovered in operations carried out by his troops. A confident STF chief said that the LTTE wouldn’t be allowed to exploit the situation.

"We are on a heightened state of alert and will do everything possible to destroy them," he said.

Responding to our queries, he said that the LTTE had launched a major false propaganda campaign to deceive the Tamil Diaspora and people living in the South. He said that reports on several successful LTTE attacks on the STF had been posted on the pro-LTTE Tamilnet in the recent past. But nothing could be more ridiculous than the claim that the Jayanthan Brigade killed ten police commandos and wounded two at Koappaaveli on the Badulla road on November 4. TamilNet also claimed that the STF had lost three personnel two days later during a 30-minute confrontation in the Panama area.

The STF chief said that LTTE propagandists had based the two false reports on actual confrontations between LTTE cadres and his troops. "We didn’t lose any personnel although police commando Bandara received gunshot injuries during the second encounter," he said. According to him, the LTTE had lost one cadre identified as Satyamurthi.

The LTTE claimed that one of their units Friday (November 7) had killed four Sri Lankan military personnel including three police commandos and wounded two police commandos at Kohilaela, Tampitiya in the Ampara District whereas the victims were two Civil Defence Force personnel and a policeman providing security to farmers, he said.

He said that over 500 fresh commandos would be available for deployment in a few months. He said that the STF was deployed in the Ampara and Batticaloa Districts and a section in Yala. By end of this year, the STF would take over the entire Yala, he said.