The Battle of Mullaitivu was a land battle fought between the Sri Lankan Military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the control of the town of Mullaitivu in the Northern Theater of Eelam War IV during the Sri Lankan civil war. The town of Mullaitivu was the last stronghold of the LTTE. The government declared on 25 January 2009 that its troops had entered the town and were consolidating their positions.
The Sri Lanka Air Force had been attacking LTTE positions in and around Mullaitivu for several days before the government troops claimed to have entered it. After the Battle of Kilinochchi, during which the Sri Lankan military captured the LTTE stronghold of Kilinochchi, the Ministry of Defence had stated that the military's next target was Mullaitivu and the "battle has already begun". Leaflets had been dropped by the Sri Lanka Air Force earlier over the town, urging civilians to come to government controlled "safe zones". The government also suspended all civil administration work on 23 January to allow public servants to leave the area. The army had allowed a 32 kilometres (20 mi) "safe area" inside the war zone for civilians to exit. Independent aid agencies report about 230,000 civilians were inside the war zone around the northern city.
Background[edit | edit source]
The LTTE captured the Mullaitivu military base and town in 1996, following a battle which resulted in at least 1639 soldiers being killed or missing. The LTTE used the town as their main military base since then. A large base of the Sea Tigers was also located in Mullaitivu.
Battle[edit | edit source]
Before the battle, public offices in Mullaittivu were closed for the weekend and government employees had moved out of the city ahead of the impending military action on 25 January. Civilians from Mullaittivu were also seen moving towards the north into the jungle areas where the LTTE guerrillas had retreated. On 24 January 2009, the LTTE had blown up a dam near the town which flooded the surrounding areas. LTTE fighters also built earth barriers, which made it difficult for the army to approach with heavy tanks.
Infantrymen of the Sri Lankan army's 7th Gemunu Watch first entered the town after facing fierce resistance from the LTTE. The ground forces were backed by helicopter gunships of the Sri Lankan Air Force. Sri Lankan troops also moved in with a small group of boats from the western side of Mullaittivu. Later, the 59th Division was involved in the consolidating the captured town. Some LTTE fighters are now reported to be hiding in a small area between Vishwamadhu and Puthukkudiyiruppu.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
With the fall of Mullaitivu, the LTTE has lost approximately 95 percent of the land they once controlled. Sarath Fonseka, the commander of the Sri Lanka Army, has requested the public to celebrate the victory with dignity by hoisting the national flag. Before the town was captured, the Sri Lankan army seized two nearby facilities used for making bombs and landmines that reportedly contain 4,000 detonators and 150 kg of explosives. The Sri Lankan army continues to target LTTE positions after the capture of Mullaitivu, and is currently attacking remaining LTTE positions inside jungles.
LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran is said to be hiding in the last jungle areas held. However, the Sri Lankan government is still not certain of the exact location.[dated info] India and Malaysia have stepped up efforts to prevent Prabhakaran from entering their territories. Prabhakaran is wanted in India for the assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
International reactions[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]