The LTTE is believed to have received information on the decision to launch attacks on its positions near the Trincomalee navy base on Tuesday evening before the combined security forces operation got underway.
LTTE cadres reportedly used public address systems to warn the public of the impending military strikes at least 30 minutes before Israeli-built Kfirs carried out the first attack on Sampoor at 6pm. This could not have happened if they were not aware of the approaching attacks, an official said.
Kfirs and Chinese F7 fighters launched from Katunayake airbase carried out a series of attacks on identified LTTE positions last Tuesday and Wednesday.
Several navy vessels and the artillery also engaged LTTE targets shortly after the air strikes got underway.
President Mahinda Rajapakse authorised military action after an LTTE woman suicide bomber seriously wounded Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka. This was after he consulted Defence Secretary Colonel (retd) Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Air Marshal Donald Perera, Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and several others.
Security authorities are trying to verify reports that the LTTE warned civilians of the impending retaliatory attacks. This comes in the backdrop of claims that the LTTE recently received information about a naval blockade to prevent a group of Trincomalee and Batticaloa based LTTE leaders from leaving the east in Sea Tiger craft.
This comes in the backdrop of growing evidence that the female bomber who penetrated army headquarters received inside help. `She could not have entered without support,` one officer said expressing the belief that the CID would make a breakthrough.
The military is trying to ascertain the damages suffered by the LTTE as a result of the military action. `We believe at least 40 cadres were killed and dozens wounded,` one official said, acknowledging that the three-pronged assault would have caused more losses among the enemy if they did not receive a warning of the impending strike.
However subsequent intelligence reports placed the number of LTTE dead over 150 with the majority being recent recruits. The military believes that many child soldiers were among the dead.
According to reports from the LTTE-held area most of the losses were due to fire from vehicle-mounted multi barrel rocket launchers. Although the LTTE apparently knew of the impending attack they did not expect the deployment of multi barrel rocket launchers.
`They were devastatingly accurate,` a senior officer said. The MBRLs acquired shortly after the fall of Elephant Pass base in April 2002 played a pivotal role in the defence of Jaffna and Palaly airbase. They had not been used in the eastern theatre before.
The Sunday Island learns that although the Scandinavian truce monitors visited the targeted area they did not visit any of the LTTE bases attacked by the forces. `The LTTE did not show them any of the bases,` an official said.