Until now, it is not clear how "Tigers" were able to so brazenly infiltrate the highest security zone in the heart of Sinhala province, the main western province, and sow such chaos.
In the early 90-ies of the LTTE carried out two attacks by infiltrating the local countryside sites. One attack was carried out at an air base China Bay, and the other on the basis set Palaly. In Trincomalee were damaged two aircraft and three helicopters, also in Jaffna was destroyed by a helicopter.
In addition, in 1995 the "Tigers" have made an unsuccessful attempt to bomb the airport in Katunayake (Katunayake). A taxi packed with explosives packed into caches were found and neutralized by appropriate authorities. After that, the police and airport security have puzzle to strengthen and intensify security measures in the area of the airport. Area has been strengthened and the number of unassailable. LTTE ended their samples to storm the airport, assuming that the level of security it was very difficult to overcome.
At the same time, for sure, this is a unique case, appropriate only for Sri Lanka when the international airport in Katunayake Air Force Base is adjacent to.? This is particularly vulnerable and makes an inflated object. Normally, to reduce this risk factor, especially during the war, remains exact delineation between civilians and military targets, first in the interest of a civilian population. Placing troops on the ground to protect the airport is applicable practice, but the specific affinity of the complex of the Air Force with intensely active civilian airfield — a unique phenomenon in the practice of international traffic.
Though any attack on the air base, of course, poses a danger and the airport, as a result of civilian passengers or tourists can be killed or injured.
Management Air Force Base Katunayake airport and could not take into account the factor of civilian vulnerability. But in this situation, they quickly saw it as a deterrent, knowing that the LTTE carefully avoided harming foreigners as it can be. That's why it was believed that the "Tigers" did not dare poruha at Katunayake. In addition, as soon as the LTTE tried to change its own international style and become the role of the state organization of liberation, not a terrorist organization, as the press portrays them. They took an active role in the peace process, which is currently being stalled.
Despite all these facts, "the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam" and even had the prerequisites were required to elect a faster Katunayake, Ratmalana instead, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Vavuniya or Palali (Palaly). Initially planned attack was to happen at the international airport in Sri Lanka and therefore an attack on at least some other object might not get a lot of publicity. In-2, the attack was planned in the heart of the Western Province, where the Sinhalese majority. This fact has also stimulated the adoption of this decision. A successful attack on the air base was to play a decisive military and political significance and cause a tangible impact on the regime.
The plan of attack
The plan of attack on the Katunayake own favorite LTTE Velupillai Prabakharanu. The plan of attack and utility for the preparation of the attack were developed Prabakharanom together with the chief of intelligence Pott Amman, commander of the Air Force and Air Defense Wing Shankar, also deputy military commander Balreyem. Prabakharan managed the project at the initial stage, with attention to the smallest detail. Such attention is explained by the fact that the favorite "Tigers" have understood the significance of the tasks against the strengthening of the Air Force of Sri Lanka.
After the efforts of the army and navy of the country to combat the "Tigers", have stalled, the favorite of insurgents now decided to focus efforts on the area around the town of Colombo. A successful attack on the Katunayake was to lead to a significant reduction in the Air Force. It had to happen, even if the base was not destroyed completely.
Despite the fact that "the Tigers' own MANPADS and anti-aircraft guns and machine guns for a successful anti-GOVERNMENTAL aircraft such arsenal was not enough. And at first because they were ineffective against-the-art aircraft, acquired in the near future Kumaratunga regime. Namely, purchased K-fir bombers Israeli-made jet fighters and MiG-27, which was found in the Ukraine, had a sophisticated missile defense system. In addition, they were very frisky for operators of air defense systems.
"Tenth Squadron" and an end to the truce
A more fundamental fact was that in Katunayake was the main part of Air Force bombers, who not long ago were kept in so-referred to as the "Tenth squadron." This is a rapidly growing division consisted of 13 bombers K-firs and eight MiG-27. The main part of them was in the hangar Katunayake, because there was a well-developed infrastructure, and asphalt runways and taxiways allowed to taxi for take-off incarnations in different directions. WFP allowed to sit down and soar over the aircraft listed above, namely, supersonic MiGs.
Kumaratunga regime was planning to increase the escalating conflict in the literal and figurative sense, increasing the intensity of air raids in the north-east in order to make the "war fever" in the south and so makarom overcome its political difficulties. In this regard, Prabakharan decided that the attack on the Katunayake will be timely and appropriate.
But the implementation of the project has been suspended Katunayake pressure Oslo contributed to the development of the peace process. "Tigers" have agreed to it in connection with the promise that he gave Erik Solheim, the introduction of a moratorium on the act forcefully in the south of the country. By following the agreement, the LTTE rejected similar attacks and kept it for a few months.
The turning point came on June 30, when the government gave orders to the commander of the "Tenth Squadron" to begin the massive bombing in the north, under the pretext of a preemptive strike to disrupt the planned advent of "Tigers" to return to Jaffna. On the same day Prabakharan gave green light to the project Katunayake.
"The Leopard" LTTE
LTTE collected and prepared team consisting priemuschestvenno of an elite unit of commandos known as the «Chiruthaigal» (Leopard), some of Fighters Wing Air Force and Air Defense, intelligence operatives also. They all took an oath "Black Tiger" and therefore were ready to accept death. The team took a severe special training. Developed a model that replicates complex Katunayake, and have been built models of its facilities, which were used for testing the attack on the elements in general.
"Tigers" have gathered enough intelligence disk imaging, which allowed them to create an effective plan for the raid. Scouts had been rented house in Katunayake, from which over time were monitored object. It is possible to make an accurate diagram of the facility. Former military air force, as employees of airlines Air Lanka also provided some useful informa
tion about the airport and the Air Force Base Katunayake. LTTE cadre officers spent painstaking exploration, using a variety of legends and images to mask their activities, which have allowed to organize a hidden control inside and outside of the airport.
The most sudden and unexpected event for the Intelligence Bureau Pott Amman was the purchase of maps and drawings of objects that are sold middle-ranking officer in the Air Force for the bank. Also, using bribery, "Tigers" have tried to recruit more pilots working Katunayake, and make them his agents. At the current time, at least two pilots, who came under suspicion, arrested on charges of collaboration with the LTTE.
Noteworthy that none of these Air Force officers and airmen is Tamil.
"The Last Supper"
It took more than 2-weeks needed for organizing the attack. They say that when Prabakharan conducted its everyday for similar cases of "Last Supper" with the men of "Tigers", who accepted the "black oath" suicide, he instilled in them the need to avoid civilian casualties in the middle of the population.
The airport building was not to be attacked at any cost. In addition, the base of the Air Force was to be attacked so that the initial step in the civilian population of the shares at the airport was quite a while to come out in the non-hazardous location. Because simultaneous attack on both targets were excluded.
This is a very surprisingly, but in the end such a colossal scale attack any civilian was killed and only a few wounded. It came out in the main due to chance events and the precautions taken by the "Tigers", aimed at avoiding causing any harm to civilian persons in strict accordance with the directive «thalaiver», which issued their top manager. Kind whatsoever, peaceful inhabitants were still at risk.
Most of the assault team has been delivered by sea to the west coast. In order to smuggle a group of sport with the right arsenal and settle in the illegal building on the west coast, it took absolutely no ordinary set of relevant documents and spent legends. Some gunmen arrived in Colombo on cars.
In the day «D» most of the members of the assault team gathered for an illegal apartment in the district of Gampaha. The right tool and ammunition were collected. 20 One militant assault group led by the commander, who was christened Amman, boarded the 36-seater luxury bus with the task to take a very fortified air base in the heart of Sinhalese enclave.
Operatives and advanced scouts arrived earlier assault team. These "Tigers" were no guns and probably passed by one or in pairs, so as not to lure attention.
Once the equipment has been delivered and tested all the possible causes of risk, on a cell phone signal was received at the beginning of the operation.
Classy bus with tinted windows and curtains on the windows bore the name "Rose". The upper part was brown, and the lower part of the gray. On board was listed destination point, "Matar". After the coming of the darkness of the bus was seen near the railway station in the area and Kadhirana Khurana.
It is puzzling how the bus managed to overcome the so-referred to as the security system in the region, in particular taking into account the presence on board of the deadly cargo and passengers quite unsafe. Was this a fluke? Either the militants had perfect documents and descriptions? Or maybe it happened because of bribery security checking at check posts?
Picnic on the playground
At 20.30 swanky bus parked in the Quran, nearby playground Raja Fernando. The passengers came out, took off their shoes, stretched out and stretch your legs, and later started a hearty dinner.
Most of them knew that this would be their last meal on earth reception. They ate right out of the food parcels, which lay chocolate bars and packets of biscuits. Men getting out banks with non-alcoholic drinks to wash it down with a chocolate biscuit.
Area, where there was a playground was not densely populated, though some have directed the attention of passers-by on the bus and its passengers. Some took them for security officers in plain clothes dress as cassette issued upbeat Sinhala music. There were very few who decided to ask them a question about the purpose of their arrival. In response to the Sinhala perfect, they were told that they had come to the Katunayake say goodbye to friends who go to the Middle East, and now want to fit in tents on the playground at night. The next day they plan to make a sightseeing trip, and then go to Matara. Many such clarification arranged. But some said the military air force of their own suspicions, but no response from them was not followed.
Usually, in order to save power outage in the area was made with 21.45. to 23.15. At this time it came out a little earlier, yet when it happened, the street was already quite dark. The soldiers of the assault team hurriedly finished the meal and began to dress in uniform. In the main it was a form of military air force. Having finished dressing, they boarded a bus to push for starting positions and continue to act in accordance with their task, a definite plan of the assault. In the rush for more than 12 pairs of shoes were left in place.
Team bus dropped at the railway routes in the area Kadirana and left. After that, using the darkness as cover, "Tigers" began to advance along the railway tracks in the direction of the airport. They were carrying several bags languid with the gun and the necessary equipment.
In the bags were carefully packed rifles G-3 assault rifles, T-56, 40-mm grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades, RPGs and starting charges for them, one-time rocket-propelled grenades (LAW), light machine guns (LMG), packages with plastic explosives substances, magnetic mines and charges with time fuses, detonators, mortars, shells, grenades, ammunition and night vision devices.
After some time, the Tigers have deviated from the railway track and through the coconut grove reached the area Kimbulapitiya (Kimbulapitiya), which is outside the airbase. In the group were two videographer with the right equipment, whose main task was to document the work of the LTTE. "Tigers" is constantly taking off their operations in the north-east, and then make propaganda films for the next demonstration and promotion of its own activity. But over the long years of struggle shooting in the south, it was decided to carry out the first time. One of the men was a licensed pilot. Another was the aircraft engineer. They were recruited specifically for this mission.
Once the electricity was turned on, a few Air Force personnel arrived at the playground, so check the participants' Picnic. " But there was nobody.
The yield of the initial
Meanwhile, the assault team "Tigers" braked at a distance of about 400 meters from the outer enclosure of the air base. Next followed the exposed portion of the area between the fence and a coconut grove on the outskirts. He was mined areas gap. In addition, the fence was also a severe disadvantage, as the wire was passed through the electron current. But in spite of so formidable technical security measures, leak on the subject all the same it may be because under the fence held drainage ditch, made to order, so that in the rainy season the water is not flooded the runways and taxiways. Water during the rain went to a nearby swampy lagoon. Currently drainage ditch was dry rocky bottom, and 'Tigers' used it to penetrate to the site. The advance team easily leaked to the terrain base and cut off the electricity, feed on fencing. After which the wire was cut, and the who
le team with weapons, ammunition, equipment and technology necessary to easily leaked to the protected area. The forthcoming step was the installation of explosive charges on the three transformers. With that there was no problems. "Tigers" maintained an accurate graphs and maps and knew where some elements of the air bases are located.
Part fighters advanced to the hangars in order to prepare the charges for mining aircraft.
The signal for the carotid
At 3.15 am a muffled shot that produced one of the "Tigers". Sentinels guarding the air base, heard it, but did not respond to it promptly. It is understood that this shot was the signal for the assault team, which was divided into three major commands. Electronic transformers were blown up one by one for 5 minutes starting from 3.30.
The air base was plunged into darkness. At this time, the command of the Air Force base and duty forces did not mean that after all came to the point. The attendants experts at the fore, that the cause of a power outage and restore power supply.
At the time of the assault on the air base its working area 350 Airmen a variety of specialties. According to unconfirmed reports, 250 people were transferred from the base to ensure the safety of the triangle flights between Sri Lanka, India, and of New Zealand.
Under cover of darkness the team "Tigers" moved in three directions. One team went secretly to the airport terminal and climbed to the roof of the control tower. The other team was leaked to the hangar and started installation of explosives. 3rd team came out on the runway and began its mining.
First explosion occurred at the airport at 3.50 am. According to unconfirmed disk imaging, it came out in the parking lot of helicopters. After the first explosion, "Tigers" began the active phase of the assault. Sentinels at the posts were removed. Of knowledge about where the posts were placed, helped LTTE to move smoothly. "Tigers" have focused first on the air base, and then ran over to the passenger aircraft standing at the airport. After that the team "Tigers" were divided into two groups: one was a subgroup mining aircraft, and the second subgroup of fire cover.
Three soldiers, who were on top of the control tower, used this strategically winning position for the review of the complex and took part in the conduct of fire running along the ground to cover up sub-groups. Division of the Air Force were pinned down sniper fire. Later, security forces tried to break under fire. In the final step, these operations began firing arrows aircraft on the runway, using heavy weapons.
The authorities' response
When fighting broke out acts civilian authorities received a report of an attack. 20 two scheduled flights had to land at the airport during the period from midnight until the afternoon on Tuesday the 24th. Only 5 of them were able to complete the flight at the time when the attack began. The passengers were landed from preparing for take-off aircraft, and flights have been canceled. No matter what, we can not avoid mass panic and pandemonium. Employees and officials who had to warn them, fled from the structure of the airport. Passengers and visitors were very frightened and confused.
Fight against terrorists came with 3. 50 to 8. 30 am. The situation began to change and turn around against the "Tigers" only after arriving at the scene special commando units from the forces frisky response.
The security forces who were at the airport lost all control over the situation in the dark. They managed to coordinate efforts only at dawn. "Tigers" by this time standing puzzle is completed, in addition, the ammunition was for the final.
Part of the militants withdrew from the site by the team, in accordance with the plan of operations, others were killed. At least one "Tiger" blew the plane together with you, the other part was shot while resisting. Several fighters have committed suicide, being surrounded by others — after they managed to get out of the fire.
Commandos fired tear gas in order to neutralize the 2-three of the "Tigers", who continued to resist, while in the control tower. One of the gunmen was found next to the refrigeration unit on the roof, and the other in the baggage sorting section. The third could not be found. It is understood that he was filming with this highest platform, and then managed to secretly leave the scene of the battle.
When the fight was over, it was found fourteen dead terrorists. One as a result of explosion was torn to pieces. Five of them committed suicide, while others were shot dead by security forces during the battle. Managed to find a huge number of firearms, grenade launchers and ammunition without containers of rocket-propelled grenades. 10 security officers were killed: two from the army units and eight of the air force. Nineteen fighter pilots and five wounded. Several civilians were also wounded residents. According to unconfirmed reports, the very few seven terrorists were able to secretly go to the non-dangerous place in the middle of a videographer that captures all the action on camera.
To defeat the LTTE rebels, who according to some reports, were hiding in the Quran, there were organized saturated search actions. To "hunt" Tigers "of the island bus drove luxury that an audible signal disturbance. It has been more than 50 Tamils arrested as suspects. In retaliation to the government ordered to carry out retaliatory bombing in the north-east of the country Force bombers 4: 2-K-fir and 2-MiG — 27.
To investigate the incident, determine the size of the damage caused and to identify irregularities in the organization and ensuring the safety of the air base and the airport was created by a special committee of 4 people.
The government estimated the damage to the original price of 539 million dollars in the United States. In rupee terms, this amounts to about 50 billion when all this does not take into account the loss due to the negative impact of this action on the development of tourism, foreign investment and the ability verbovaniya foreign professionals. Regarding the extent of the devastation, the matter has not hitherto concrete answer.
In search of truth
The government provided specific numbers, but sources LTTE challenge them.
According to the government, eleven aircraft were destroyed and three damaged. According to official figures, three aircraft were destroyed, three training aircraft K-8, two bombers K-fir, a jet fighter, the MiG-27 and two combat helicopters Mi-17. Another three aircraft were damaged. The damage caused to the Air Force, has reduced their ability to bombing attacks by 45%. The newly formed "Tenth Squadron," created for the bomb strikes, lost two of the eight MiG-27 and four out of 13 K'fir. In addition, four K'firs were scrapped due to injuries acquired.
Infrastructure Bombardment Squadron also suffered severe damage. Special repository used to store high-explosive bombs, blew up with the content. Ammunition depot along the airbase was also completely destroyed. In addition, the fuel tank air base, and three tanker were destroyed.
Presumably the president instructed the government to try to rasprostronyat the real facts about the attack in order to avoid undermining international confidence in the government, and because of fears that the Sinhala community to resume agitation against the government, accusing it of enormous loss.
Not so much the result of summing the infliction of harm as evaluating the actions of the parties, to say the subsequent hunt.
As for the properties of planning a raid on an
air base and clarity of the management plan for the militants, there is nothing except praise them the address does not occur. Indeed carefully planned and brilliantly executed action.
She looks even more bezproigryshno against the negligence of security, protection, and other entities responsible for the protection and defense of the airbase naikrupneyshey Sri Lankan government and the airport. Apparently, such negligence on their not expecting even the insurgents because of the squad and was on death row. As can be seen from the events outlined, the security forces before dawn could not understand what is happening. If militants were tasked to die after doing puzzles, and retreat, I believe that they could do it easily in the night.