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Last modified on: 12/30/2010 11:29:34 PM Military situation in Muttur on 4th August 2006 - The day of the brutal massacre of 17 aid workers

Military situation in Muttur on 4th August 2006 - The day of the brutal massacre of 17 aid workers

Introduction

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On mid night 1st of August, 2006, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched a major offensive at Muttur, a remote town in the eastern Sri Lanka. This area includes the camps of Mahindapura, Kaddaparichchan, Selvanagar, and Muttur naval jetty etc.

The attack was not an isolated attack to capture Muttur but was a coordinated attack in order to destabilize the total Jaffna peninsula. The LTTE confrontation for the Mavil Aru Anicut started on 28th of July 2006 and the humanitarian operation to rescue the Mavil Aru Anicut was continuing during the time of the attack on the Muttur town sector.

During the same span of time, LTTE launched simultaneous attacks on Muhamalei/Nagarkovil defences and Kayts island respectively, on 11th August 2006 and 12th August 2006, which were successfully averted by the troops. Trincomalee was the supply base for the Jaffna peninsula and the capturing of Muttur was more strategic for the destabilization of Trincomalee naval base and the Jaffna peninsula. Finally, the over estimation of LTTE capabilities by the terrorists became the hallmark of failure of the total attack.

The intention of the LTTE in this offensive was to get control to some extent over the operations of the strategically vital Trincomalee harbour. This observation is confirmed by the following statement in the Tamil Net on 2nd August 2006 "Tigers had entered Muttur jetty a strategic point of access to Trincomalee harbour area".

The terrorists launched the pre-dawn attack keeping Sampur as the launching pad to capture the Muttur town, which is situated on the Southern border of Koddiyar bay. A massive strength of ground cadre, heavy artillery and mortar barrages were used in the attack. As the security forces could not retaliate using equal force, due to the presence of a large number of civilians in the area, LTTE took total control of the Muttur sector. According to recorded incident reports, it has been found that LTTE had maintained its control in these areas until 5th August, 2006.

The victims were at the Muttur branch of the ACF under the direction of their main office situated in Trincomalee. According to forensic evidence, the victims were murdered during the early hours on the 4th August 2006 while the LTTE was still in control over the area. The following is the chronology of the military retaliation as recorded by Sri Lanka Army:

 

Chronology of Military Operation

The terrorists launched simultaneous attacks, supported by artillery and mortar fire on Army Camps in Kaddaiparichan, Selvanagar, Mahindapura and Naval Detachment Muttur with the ultimate aim of capturing Trincomalee to gain obvious strategic advantage of a valuable harbour. However, due to courageous counter attacks carried out by the motivated and competent troops deployed in these military detachments (Army/Navy) it was possible to quell the attacks on Selvanagar and Mahindapura Army Camps but the attacks on Kaddaiparichan Army Camp and on the Naval Detachment Muttur continued. The LTTE's main effort was on the Kaddaiparichan Army Camp, where the terrorists launched repeated assaults from the North East (Kaddaiparichan Bridge) and also from the North and from West (Muttur Town). Following are the excerpts of military actions carried out to control the situation in Muttur;

 

02 AUG 2006

1. Around or little after mid night of 01st August 2006 terrorists launched simultaneous attacks, supported by artillery and mortar fire on to Army Camp in Kaddaiparichan, Selavanagar, Mahindapura and Naval Detachment Muttur, the police post in Muttur town was also attacked. The Army was able to quell the attacks on Selvanagar and Mahindapura camps by pm 02nd August but the attacks on Kaddaiparichan Army Camp and Naval Detachment Muttur continued. The LTTE main effort was focussed on the Kaddaiparichan Army Camp, where the terrorists launched repeated assaults from the North East (Kaddaiparichan Bridge), North and from West ( Muttur Town ).

2. At first light, troops commenced advance from the South (64 Mile Post) astride Rd A-15 and reached Kaddaiparichan Detachment by 11 45 hrs under heavy resistance.

3. Around 0700 hrs, troops deployed in Trincomalee Town Sector and Monkey Bridge MSR were moved out as reinforcements .Among them, some troops inducted from 222 Brigade Head Quarter(Kallar) by helicopter/road and others sent to Navy Dockyard to be inducted into Muttur Jetty by sea.

4. At 1120 hrs, casualties were evacuated to Naval Dockyard Trincomalee by Navy craft.

5. Around 1700 hrs, troops moved to Naval Dockyard by Helicopter from Jaffna.

6. Around 1700 hrs, some of the troops at Naval Dockyard (referred at para 3 above) were inducted to Muttur Naval Detachment by sea in order to recapture the fallen eastern flank of the Muttur Navy Detachment.

7. At 1850 hrs, another contingent moved from Naval Dockyard by sea to reinforce Muttur Naval Detachment. They reached Muttur Jetty at 2330 hrs under heavy resistance. But troops made several counter attacks and repulsed LTTE many assaults.

8. Around 2330 hrs, troops made an attempt to break out from Muttur Naval Detachment and reinforce Kaddaiparichan Detachment. Attempt failed due to heavy resistance from the LTTE who engaged the troops with small arms fire from the Southern /Western direction (Muttur Town) supported by mortars and artillery. But due to heavy resistance from the forces with artillery, support arms and small arms LTTE could not sustain the attacks at Kaddaparichchan.

 

03 AUG 2006

9. By dawn, troops reached Kaddaiparichan detachment. This movement was done under cover of darkness. By this time troops continue to clear terrorist positions and stabilize defences in Muttur Naval Detachment.

10. Around 1230 hrs, troops deployed in Trincomalee Town Sector were pulled out and sent to Naval Dockyard to move to Muttur Naval Detachment.

11. Around 1600 hrs, troops available at Naval Dockyard were inducted by sea to Muttur Naval Detachment. Meanwhile, effective air/artillery strikes were launched to Ralkkkuli area to neutralize identified LTTE heavy machine gun and mortar positions. Artillery fire was also directed to LTTE assembly areas in Sampoor and Kaddaparichchan. In the afternoon hours contingent of troops reached the Muttur police station along the beach.

12. The attack by the LTTE on the Naval detachment at the Jetty continued but the LTTE could not advance beyond Bravo Point as the Defense forces with the arrival of Naval command officers and the army with more men and ammunition on display began barraging LTTE positions. Furthermore, proper LTTE position communicated with grid bearings enabled accurate artillery attacks from the bases to be directed to LTTE positions. However, LTTE continued to hold Bravo Point but at a point accurate artillery fire stilled their attack due to precision attacks by the defense forces

13. At 1815 hrs, troops inducted into the Navy Detachment, moved out and established a link with Kaddaiparichan Army Detachment. Troops managed to carry little replenishments and returned to Naval Detachment Muttur as link could not be maintained due to the heavy interference from the terrorists from the Muttur Town area. LTTE suffered many casualties due to the effective artillery fire directed towards the bridge. Troops observed the LTTE evacuating many dead bodies and wounded at the bridge site. LTTE had understood that they are in the loosing end of the game and Army is progressing in the battle with speedy reinforcements. LTTE had started withdrawing towards the Muttur town area and tried to consolidate the Town. Further, the terrorists had deployed groups at junction point in the Town covering the routes out of the Army and Naval Detachment.

14. The main thrust of the LTTE was to Kaddaparichchan camp, Muttur naval jetty and to the Muttur police station. But, troops foiled the LTTE attack and dented, by evening the defences of Kaddaparichchan Army detachment, Muttur Naval detachment at jetty and police station were stabilized and troops were able to consolidate the perimeter defences. Camps were in a better position and troops understood that LTTE cannot continue with the attacks to the Police station, Naval detachment at jetty or the Kaddaparichchan detachment and LTTE had to withdraw. Finally, "Gradually the intensity of the LTTE attacks became feeble as the firepower of the Defense Forces became superior due to well directed artillery attacks on strategic LTTE positions and operation of sharpshooters who were hitting LTTE fighters .

Attacks from Ralkulli subsided on the police station with arrival of the troops who consolidated the borders inside and outside the Police station and the LTTE were at the receiving both at the jetty and Kaddaparichchan. Late night with the intense barrage of attacks directed at the LTTE the fire from the LTTE was on the wane yet the LTTE held positions held formerly in the Mutur town in the several police posts. It became apparent though LTTE presence was evident their main fire position were incapacitated by properly directed artillery attacks

 

04 AUG 06

15. At 1145 hrs, troops advanced from the South (Palathopur) astride Rd A- 15 and cleared terrorists occupying area Galkanda and consolidated the area.

16. At 1410 hrs, the armoury and the command bunker in the Naval Detachment Muttur exploded due to terrorists' mortar fire.

17. Around 1710 hrs, same troops (stated in para 15) advanced further North of Galkanda.

18. At last light, the troops stated in above Para 17 reached 64 MP Detachment and halted the advance due to terrorist interference ahead of the Rd A -15 (Northern direction)

 

05 AUG 06

19. At 0700 hrs, the troops stated in paragraph 17 commenced the advance towards North from 64 MP Detachment to establish a link with Kaddaiparichan Detachment.

20. At 1130 hrs, troops moved out South and Westwards from the Police Station and advanced towards East clearing terrorists holding junction point along the route and was able to establish a link with Kaddaiparichan Detachment by 1600 hrs,

21. At 1145 hrs, troops reached Kaddaiparichan Detachment from the South and established the link to reopen the MSR, A - 15 Rd.

22. By last light troops commenced consolidating defensive positions and the lines established to maintain the link along Rd A -15 (Southward to 64 MP Camp - Palatoppur), Police Station (Westwards) and Kaddaiparichan Detachment with Muttur Jetty/Navy Detachment (Northwards)

 

06 AUG 06

23. At 0800 hrs, troops commenced comprehensive clearing of Muttur Town.

24. At 1800 hrs, troops completed clearing Muttur Town and commenced consolidation at Town Police Post and Muttur Jetty.

25. Around 2130 hrs, terrorist attacked the troops deployed in general area 66 MP. Troops repulsed the attack and regained control over the situation by first light 07 Aug 06.

 

Incident setting

Despite the attack being a gross violation of the then existing ceasefire between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, the attention of the whole world was drawn to it as 17 employees of Action Contre la Faim (ACF), an International Non Governmental Organization were found killed during the hostilities. The deaths of these aid workers were soon turned to a propaganda tool against Sri Lanka as many LTTE sympathizers started kicking it hard to bring discredit to Sri Lanka Army soldiers.

Since the voice of the propagandists is always heard louder than the truth, many are still in the dark over the Army's side of the story. Those soldiers who sacrificed their lives and limbs to prevent tens and thousands of innocent civilians becoming prisoners of a ruthless terrorist outfit were certainly competent enough to win the battle on the ground but not in the propaganda forum. They have been certainly suppressed by the LTTE propagandists who continue to harp a fabricated story despite all the evidence available against it. Defence.lk looked into all the recorded incident reports of the battle which had been duly compiled at Army Directorate of Operations and in an attempt to give voice to the voiceless.

The ACF office of Muttur is situated opposite the Muttur hospital on the same street, and with Muttur hospital coming under heavy artillery fire from the inception of the confrontations and it being rendered totally helpless by mid 02 August 2006; it is obvious that the occupants of the ACF office well and truly understood the dangers they were faced with as the hospital, their immediate neighbour was the recipient of LTTE bombardment. It is strange that the ACF workers did not heed to the calls of the religious clergy when they were asked to join others in taking refuge in the Churches (Catholic and Methodist), Mosques and Muslim schools as revealed by the witnesses who have testified in their evidences to this effect.

This happened because their employers, ACF, according to the testimony of their relatives at the Commission, were ordered not to move away from the premises of the ACF office at Mutur. Further, having two vehicles at their disposal within their compound itself, along with two drivers in the staff, it is obvious that they did not leave the complex due to orders from their higher Headquarter located in Trincomalee Town. The church carried their refugees in a tractor and the Red Cross in a van while the ACF held their workers captive in their office notwithstanding the availability of several vehicles. It is now a known fact after recording evidence that the relatives of some of the deceased ACF workers have been denied the opportunity of evacuating, as requested by their relatives, by the newly appointed French Head of the Mission of ACF local office in Trincomalee at the time, who was ignorant of the ground situation prevalent in Muttur Town or of events in Sri Lanka.

Infact, a Christian priest who gave evidence before the Commission of Inquiry claimed that he had advised and in fact insisted that the 17 workers find shelter in his church, where many other refugees had gathered. They had categorically informed him that they were instructed by their Trincomalee office to stay in the Muttur ACF office. Had the 17 aid workers heeded the advice of the clergy they would have most probably been alive today.

 

Conclusions

The finding of the SLMM and of the JMO and all other medical and forensic determinations specifies the time of the death of the 17 aid workers to have occurred "before 7.00 AM on 04 August 2006". Therefore the deaths could have occurred in early morning hours of 04 August 2006 at which point of time the LTTE was in full control of the Muttur Town.

This fact is also reinforced by the web article published by the Tamil Net datelined Tuesday, 08 August 2006, 11:36 GMT which specifies that the LTTE were in control of Muttur Town at the relevant time.

Further, the evidence quotes that the deceased ACF workers were asked to remain at the office compound itself without seeking refuge elsewhere, by the officials of ACF office located in Trincomalee Town, as testified by their relatives at the Commission. These evidences along with the time lines clearly indicate that the killing has been carried out by the LTTE at the time they were in total control in Muttur Town with the intention of discrediting the Sri Lanka Army, and to take cover to hide their reversals and create a human rights situation and foster it on the Defence Forces. The LTTE suffered reversals at Muttur and Mavil Aru and to gain some mileage in desperation, they eliminated the aid workers to create a human rights situation. It is the LTTE, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, who has been killing civilians to achieve their brutal objectives for the last 30 years.

Therefore, the killing of the 17 workers is not an unusual characteristic and LTTE has achieved their objective as they have made it an issue for the international community. But the evidence at the Commission has made them to suffer egg in their face. Let the whole truth emerge and we can watch how spin masters of the international community will then resort to. It is an interesting pastime to watch such characters in action. They succeed only in unmasking themselves.

Map 1

Map 1

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