US embassy cable - 97COLOMBO673

LTTE USE OF LANDMINES TAKES ITS TOLL

Identifier: 97COLOMBO673
Wikileaks: View 97COLOMBO673 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 1997-02-21 09:28:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PARM MCAP PGOV PTER CE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 210928Z FEB 97
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9056
INFO AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
AMCONSUL MADRAS 
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 
USMISSION GENEVA 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 
AMEMBASSY DHAKA 
UNCLAS COLOMBO 000673 
 
DEPT FOR SA/INS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PARM, MCAP, PGOV, PTER, CE 
SUBJECT: LTTE USE OF LANDMINES TAKES ITS TOLL 
 
REF:  96 COLOMBO 3209 
 
1.  SUMMARY:  DURING THE PAST EIGHT MONTHS, OVER 225 
PERSONS--SOME MILITARY, MANY CIVILIAN--HAVE 
REPORTEDLY FALLEN VICTIM TO LANDMINES LAID BY THE 
INSURGENT LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE) IN 
THE WAR-AFFLICTED NORTH AND EAST.  INCIDENTS THIS 
YEAR ALONE HAVE KILLED AT LEAST 16 CIVILIANS AND 
WOUNDED 12.  THE LAYING OF LANDMINES--BY BOTH THE 
LTTE AND THE GOVERNMENT--HAS BEEN COMMON IN THE 
FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD INSURGENCY.  UNTIL THE INSURGENCY 
IS RESOLVED, RESTRAINT IN THEIR USE IS UNLIKELY. 
END COMMENT. 
 
2.  RECENT PRESS REPORTS STATE THAT DURING THE PAST 
EIGHT MONTHS, OVER 225 PERSONS--SOME MILITARY, MANY 
CIVILIAN--HAVE BEEN KILLED BY LANDMINES LAID BY THE 
INSURGENT LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE) IN 
JAFFNA AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WAR-TORN NORTH AND 
EAST.  IN A RECENT INCIDENT IN LATE JANUARY, THE 
LTTE ON THE JAFFNA PENINSULA BLASTED CLAYMORE MINES 
ON TWO OCCASIONS WITHIN CLOSE PROXIMITY OF EACH 
OTHER, KILLING NINE CIVILIANS AND ONE SOLDIER.  FIVE 
OF THE CIVILIANS WERE WOMEN.  SIX CIVILIANS AND TWO 
SOLDIERS WERE ALSO WOUNDED.  THE BLASTS OCCURRED ON 
THE PONNALAI CAUSEWAY CONNECTING JAFFNA AND 
KARAITHIVU ISLAND AS TROOPS CONDUCTED A ROUTINE 
ROUTE-CLEARING OPERATION. 
 
3.  ON JANUARY 28, SIX CIVILIANS WERE KILLED AND 
FIVE INJURED WHEN A VAN IN WHICH THEY WERE TRAVELING 
RAN OVER A LANDMINE AT KUDAPOKUNA IN WELIKANDA IN 
EASTERN PROVINCE.  THE ARMY HAS FORCED TO CARRY OUT 
ROUTE-CLEARING OPERATIONS BEFORE REACHING THE AREA 
AS THEY FEARED THE LTTE MIGHT HAVE PLANTED 
ADDITIONAL EXPLOSIVES.  MEANWHILE ONE SOLDIER HAS 
KILLED AND THREE INJURED WHEN THEIR TRUCK HIT A 
LANDMINE ON THE SAME DAY.  ON JANUARY 26, A DEFENSE 
MINISTRY PRESS RELEASE SAID THAT A CIVILIAN HAS 
KILLED AND ANOTHER INJURED WHEN A TRACTOR HAS 
DESTROYED IN A LANDMINE BLAST AT PETHALAI IN 
BATTICALOA DISTRICT OF THE EAST. 
 
4.  ON JANUARY 18, THE TIGERS SPREAD MINES AFTER A 
PRE-DAWN ATTACK ON KANUGAHAWEWA POLICE POST AT 
KEBITHIGOLLEWA IN ANURADHAPURA DISTRICT.  TWENTY 
THREE POLICE PERSONNEL WERE KILLED AND 20 OTHERS 
WERE WOUNDED IN THE ATTACK, SOME REPORTEDLY BY THE 
MINES.  ONE AMBULANCE HAS DESTROYED WHEN A MINE 
EXPLODED.  ON FEBRUARY 10, TWO SOLDIERS AND THREE 
TERRORISTS WERE KILLED IN A CONFRONTATION AT PUTTUR 
IN THE JAFFNA DISTRICT.  MILITARY SOURCES SAID 
TERRORISTS HAD ACTIVATED A CLAYMORE MINE WHEN TROOPS 
WERE RETURNING AFTER CONDUCTING AN OPERATION.  ON 
JANUARY 12, EIGHT SOLDIERS WERE KILLED AND ANOTHER 
TEN WERE WOUNDED IN A LANDMINE EXPLOSION AT KACHCHAI 
IN JAFFNA.  THE ARMY TRACTOR ON WHICH THE TROOPS 
WERE TRAVELING WAS CAUGHT IN THE LANDMINE BLAST. 
 
5.  COMMENT:  THE LAYING OF LANDMINES--BY BOTH THE 
LTTE AND THE GOVERNMENT--HAS BEEN COMMON IN THE 
FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD CIVIL WAR.  CIVILIAN CASUALTIES, 
THOUGH NOT REGULARLY NOTED IN THE PRESS, MOUNT. 
UNTIL THE INSURGENCY IS RESOLVED, RESTRAINT IN 
LANDMINE USE IS UNLIKELY.  END COMMENT. 
 
BURLEIGH 

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