COLOMBO, May 11: As the country paused on Friday for three-day Vesak Poya (Sinhala for Buddha Purnima) celebrations, cold news emerged from the North, where the Sri Lankan Army managed to intercept certain wireless communications. According to top sources, a three-minute conversation intercepted late on Thursday confirmed the presence of Pottu Amman, nom de guerre of Shanmugalingam Sivashankar, the LTTE’s intelligence, covert operations and Black Tigers chief. While it won’t admit it officially, the Army feels that if LTTE chief Prabhakaran has any chance at all of escaping from the formidable Sri Lankan ground-sea cordon, it will be through the singular time-tested cunning of this one man.
“Pottu cannot be underestimated. He is well aware that we can intercept their communications. In the past he has provided false clues knowing that we are listening,” an officer here told Headlines Today. “Without him, Prabhakaran is nothing. We can get him in minutes.”
On April 8, the Army said it had intelligence reports to suggest that Pottu had in fact assumed overall command of the Tamil Tigers, since it was apparently necessary for Prabhakaran to be isolated for security reasons. At this time, it was also revealed that Prabhakaran had appointed Velawan as the ad hoc military chief.
Three days earlier, on April 5, the Army announced that it had listened in to a conversation where Pottu had apparently told cadres after a violent confrontation with the Lankan forces, “Forgive me. This is it. Everything is beyond my control.” For the next few days, he apparently went “silent” – the Army says he used the time to organize the activation of weapon and ammunition stockpiles in the No Fire Zone. In the latest three-minute intercept, sources said Pottu could be heard frantically dishing out instructions for the movement of men and materials.
Minister for Social Welfare Douglas Devananda, a former Tamil militant and the target of at least eight assassination attempts by the LTTE feels the only way to destroy the LTTE is to eliminate Pottu Amman. “Pottu is everything for the LTTE. It will be shaken if not for him. He has so much craze for blood,” the Minister said.
Another minister in the Rajapaksa government, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Colonel Karuna Amman, a former LTTE commander who worked closely with Pottu Amman in the nineties said, “Pottu is not a fighter. He is skilled at other things. He can orchestrate the destruction of economical targets and assassinations of politicians. But he is not a fighter.”
While the Tigers have put up stiff resistance to closing Lankan ground forces, especially on the Northern bank of the Nanthikadal Lagoon, it is understood that Pottu has organized formidable defences, including bunkers and gun batteries towards the Southern parts of the No Fire Zone, where the final face-off between the Tigers and Lankan troops will in all likelihood take place. Troops of the 58 and 53 Divisions continued their ground advance within the No Fire Zone today, restricting the Tigers and thousands of civilians to a space of less than four square kilometers.
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