LTTE wanted to capture port cities: Lankan navy chief
The LTTE had a master plan to encircle the entire Sri Lankan eastern coast, capture the Trincomalee port and take control of northern Jaffna after defeating Sri Lankan armed forces, the navy chief has said.
However, Sri Lankan national intelligence services and the navy intelligence preempted the LTTE plan and defeated the Tiger rebels subsequently, Navy Commander Admiral Vasantha Karannagoda said.
"It was well-known that the terrorist Sea Tiger leader Soosai had predicted that the Eelam War IV (from July 2006) will be fought on the seas," he told the state-run ITN TV last night.
He said the political leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not yield to international pressure to go for talks with the LTTE when the armed forces started their operation, which was a key factor in winning the war against the rebels.
The naval chief said it was unlike in the previous occasions when the armed forces were winning and some leaders gave in to external pressures and stopped the operations.
Karannagoda said the second part of the LTTE plan was to attack the port of Colombo using suicide sea Tiger cadres so that the entire economy could be ruined and ships would stop calling over at Colombo.
The navy used the most modern naval and signal equipment in and around the port and opened several camps from Negombo to Panadura to keep all Tiger craft or Sea Tigers out of the entire area, Karannagoda said.
"Had the LTTE terrorists succeeded, the deciding battle would have been on the sea," he said, pointing out that the navy had been able to destroy 11 LTTE ships over the years that attempted to smuggle in arms, notably artillery and mortars among others.
"But once the ships were destroyed, some of them on international waters, their fire power declined after 2005 and by 2007-2008 they could not land a single shipment of arms and the LTTE started retreating from all fronts," Karannagoda said.
The Sri Lankan army, therefore, had a clear advantage over the LTTE from that period onwards. Though the LTTE's artillery and mortar attacks did not stop, they decreased gradually and by the beginning of 2009 there were only a few attacks as they could not smuggle weapons with the strong navy presence in the seas, Admiral Karannagoda said.
He said all three armed forces cooperated and acted in unison to defeat the LTTE and that he was grateful to the navy personnel as well as other members of the military for their sacrifices in the war against the Tiger rebels.