The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) yesterday warned that a small group of LTTE terrorists remained active in the South though their fighting formations had been totally destroyed.
Major General Mano Perera, the Overall Operations Commander, in charge of the Western Province, said that that terrorist group that was being hunted included suicide cadres and their handlers.
Addressing the press at the SLA headquarters, he said that terrorists could be operating in the city and its suburbs. Emphasising that an LTTE threat remained, the officer said that a spate of recoveries made by the police, the SLA and other services following the collapse of the LTTE in May highlighted the danger.
He said that the SLA would throw a heavy security blanket in the city and its suburbs to thwart a possible terrorist attack aimed at disrupting its 60th year anniversary celebrations.
Since the SLA killed LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon on May 19, there had not been a single LTTE attack though one soldier died in Batticaloa while making an attempt to apprehend a fleeing terrorist.
Army Chief-of-Staff Major General Mendaka Samarasinghe, Chairman of the Organising Committee, said that beginning with religious observance on October 2, the SLA would hold a series of events to celebrate the anniversary. On October 12, a ceremonial parade would be accorded to Chief of Defence Staff General Sarath Fonseka, who spearheaded the Sri Lanka s successful war against the LTTE. He is the senior most serving army officer.
Samarasinghe said that the two major events that would attract the people would be the five-day exhibition at the BMICH beginning October 3 and the Army Tattoo beginning October 17 for 7 days at the Khettarama International Stadium. They would the major public gatherings in the city after the historic triumph over LTTE terrorism after the bloodiest phase of the Eelam war. The SLA lost over 5,000 officers and men during three years of fighting.
The former Jaffna Security Forces Commander said that the exhibition at the BMICH would give the general public an unprecedented opportunity to see actual combat scenes captured on film, exclusive pictures as well as maps depicting what he called battle-field progress from Mavil-aru on the Eastern front to Nanthikadal on the Vanni East front. He said that the SLA would also put on display a range of armaments, including heavy artillery seized from the LTTE though it would not be possible to move each and every captured item to Colombo.
Perera urged visitors to BMICH and Khettarama not to bring even a bottle of water as both the army and the civilians could avoid unnecessary delays.
Samarasinghe said that entry tickets for the BMICH exhibition would be priced at Rs 50 for general public and Rs 25 for students in the event of organised visits by schools. But tickets for Army Tattoo would be priced at Rs. 2,000 (grand stand), Rs.1000, Rs. 500 and Rs.200. Responding to The Island queries he said though they expected approximately 100,000 visitors a day to BMICH and about 20,000 to Khettarama, the SLA did not expect to make a profit it would be utilised for the benefit of both the serving and the battle wounded.
Samarasinghe expressed belief that the October shows would encourage recruitment to the army. Although the war had come to an end, recruitment would continue, he said adding that the 200,000 strong SLA was now engaged in development projects, particularly road construction in the eastern Trincomalee district. He emphasised the importance of maintaining existing troop levels to meet any eventuality. The SLA, he said was comprised of 265 regular and volunteer battalions belonging to 23 Regiments deployed both in the North and East and outside the former battle-grounds.