Sri Lanka: Tiger trouble

The longstanding conflict in the north east of Sri Lanka appears to be reaching a critical juncture. Whilst renewed fighting is hardly unusual in this seventeen year war between the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan security forces, the scale and direction of current battles suggest that the Tigers may be close to victory, if their leadership cares to see it that way. The rapid reverse in government fortunes presents dilemmas all round.

The World Today Updated 28 October 2020 Published 1 July 2000 4 minute READ

Dr Chris Smith

In November last year, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – generally known as the Tigers - launched the third phase of this attritious war by capturing key towns along the Colombo-Jaffna trunk road. On April 27, they took control of the strategically important Elephant Pass, once thought impregnable.

This cut completely already tenuous overland military supply lines from the south that had proved so difficult for the armed forces to protect and guarantee, especially through the Tiger controlled Vanni district.

After seventeen thousand Sri Lankan troops had been evacuated from the Elephant Pass garrison, the Tigers began to move forward towards Jaffna. Some thirty five thousand Sri Lankan soldiers are now trapped in the city, poised for a Tiger onslaught. Jaffna is quickly emptying of civilians fearing another bloodbath and heeding Tiger demands for them to leave the city.

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