Sri Lankan military: LTTE lost nearly 6,000 cadres; Karuna: LTTE might use chemical weapons to protect Prabhakaran; LTTE recommences civilian military training programmes; Key LTTE suspects involved in bomb blasts in Kandy and Matale arrested
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  • The Sri Lankan military stated that the LTTE was no longer able to maintain a ‘front line’ of bunkers and that it had lost nearly 6,000 of its cadres, while the army had lost about 600 soldiers1. Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, addressing a gathering of the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in Kuruwita, Ratnapura asserted that the armed forces were very close to Kilinochchi2. UNP Chief Ministerial candidate for the North Central Provincial Council (NCPC), Maj. Gen. (retd.) Janaka Perera told BBC Sandeshaya that his party had always supported the eradication of terrorism from Sri Lanka but expressed apprehensions over “attempts to exploit the war to undermine democracy in the island3.”

    Meanwhile, the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) leader Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman warned that the LTTE might use chemical weapons to protect the life of its supreme in the face of the series of military setbacks suffered by it4. Karuna warned that Prabhakaran was planning to use human shields in battles in the northern region. Karuna also claimed that when he was in the LTTE, he had defeated the offensives launched by the Sri Lanka government in places such as Jayasikuru, Elephant Pass, and Kilinochchi5.

    The LTTE political wing made an urgent request to the civilians and former cadres to join the LTTE in order to protect and regain the ‘Tamil homeland’. According to the pro-Tiger websites Puthinam, the LTTE had recommenced basic military training programmes for civilians in the Wanni which was joined by around 1000 civilians6. These civilians would be assisting the LTTE cadres in conventional attacks as well as in ambushes against government forces. The training programmes, which were a common phenomenon in 2006 and 2007, recommenced as tens of thousands of civilians converged on Kilinochchi, fleeing the fighting along the south western borders of the Wanni forward defence lines (FDLs).

    Sri Lanka’s special police team arrested four key LTTE suspects wanted in connection with 13 large scale bomb explosions that took place in Kandy and Matale7. The police had also arrested six LTTE suspects in Rathwatta area previously along with 13 kg of high explosives, 30 detonators, 11 feet long detonator codes and cyanide capsules.

    In other developments, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reported that a Toronto-based non-profit group, the World Tamil Movement (WTM), wired more than $3 million to overseas bank accounts, some of which were linked to the LTTE, before it was shut down by the government in June 2008 for alleged terrorist financing. The report, unsealed by an order of a Federal Court judge, provided the first detailed look at the banking activities of WTM. According to the report, most of the money, $1.9 million, went to an account at the Bumiputra Commerce Bank in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which was “utilized as a vehicle to forward money to the LTTE from Canada8." The report further stated that the WTM had “developed an elaborate machine-like-entity that moves throughout the Greater Toronto Area collecting funds with extreme proficiency." The 83-page financial report was the fruit of two years of analysis of banking records seized by Canadian anti-terrorism police investigating the financial network run by supporters of the LTTE that allegedly raised money in Canada to buy arms for the guerrillas. However, the WTM has denied any involvement in terrorist fundraising and vowed to challenge the government's decision.