Contrary to denial by the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) and the Military Spokesman, a tri-services board headed by Navy Chief Vice Admiral has been appointed to investigate the recent LTTE raid on Anuradhapura SLAF base.
Army Chief of Staff Major General Lawrence Fernando has been included in the five-man investigation team. Sittings are expected to begin shortly.
Both Lakshman Hulugalle and Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara on behalf of the MCNS and Security Forces, respectively early this week denied our exclusive revelation of the proposed appointment. Both asserted that two Courts of Inquiry appointed in the immediate aftermath of the devastating assault were adequate.
Well informed sources said that the government wanted to conduct a thorough investigation into all aspects of the attack. It would be a grave mistake to probe the attack, the worst since the Elephant Pass debacle in April 2000, purely from one angle, the sources said.
The Island learns that the investigation would also go into the possibility that the LTTE suicide squad `operatted` the new L 70 Indian anti-aircraft guns installed there. Two high ranking SLAF and SLA officials yesterday denied this possibility. They said that the Indian manufactured guns with integrated fire control radar couldn`t have been operated by the attackers.
Sri Lankan security forces believe that this particular type of weapon had not been previously used by the group. But after capturing the gun positions, they had fired them at fixed wing aircraft and choppers parked there, they said.
Many an eyebrow was raised at this shocking possibility. The operation of a dedicated anti-aircraft weapon is a complicated process and having to acknowledge the enemy`s expertise in handling this particular weapon has stunned the Sri Lankan military, the sources said.
`Where did they acquire the expertise? Have they bought a similar type of weapon or most importantly did they have prior knowledge of the type of the heavy weapons in SLAF`s armoury.`
The deployment of 40 mm guns at the base has been part of the Indian air defence package offered to Sri Lanka. The Indian offer thwarted Colombo`s decision to secure an advanced Chinese air defence package to face the threat posed by the LTTE.
The SLAF recently installed two 40 mm weapons at Anuradhapura base, home to the Maritime Surveillance Command and a critically important platform for operations including casualty evacuation. There had been two 23 mm weapons of Bulgarian origin.
It has been established beyond doubt that the LTTE launched two aircraft after the infiltrators seized the gun positions and wreaked havoc, thereby ensuring that the Anuradhapura base would not be able to launch aircraft to intercept the enemy aircraft. The LTTE aircraft dropped two bombs and flew back despite the Indian radar installed at Vavuniya detecting them soon after they were airborne.