Following a series of losses suffered by the LTTE, beginning August last year at Sampur that culminated at Thoppigala a fortnight ago, defence analysts predict the LTTE would exert pressure on parents in the Vanni to part with their children as there is a dearth of man power in the Tiger rank and file.
According to UNICEF data, as at May 31, 2007, there were 1,591 child soldiers with the LTTE and out of that 506 were under 18 years of age. The youngest were believed to be in the 9-10 age group.
UNICEF also said 44 per cent of child soldiers with the LTTE and other paramilitary groups in Sri Lanka were girls and this number is the highest percentage compared to other guerrilla movements in the world. There are 300,000 child soldiers in guerrilla movements around the world.
Defence analysts estimate the LTTE could have lost around 2,000 cadres beginning early last year upto the Thoppigala battle.