Scrap Heaps Of A Thirty Year War


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The thirty year civil war in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009. The most potent weapon of the LTTE or Tamil Tigers was the suicide bomber. Since the war ended it has been possible to visit the former LTTE controlled areas in the north of the country and the LTTE bases in the Wanni jungle and their military hardware have been put on public display. Using the frontier town of Mulaitivu as the base, I visited these rusting relics of war in February of 2013. This is what I saw.

PRABHAKARAN‘S JUNGLE HIDEOUT

Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran‘s camouflaged compound with massive gates in the Wanni jungle is extensive. It is surrounded by minefields, several barbed wire fences, armoured sentry posts manned by suicide bombers, cages containing dogs trained to sense any approaching enemy soldiers, and a jogging track. His modest house has four stories of underground concrete bunkers with booby trapped reinforced steel doors, conference rooms and escape tunnels. The house has bullet proof sentry posts at the four corners. The cavernous entry to his underground car park, the generator room, shooting gallery and the kitchens are to one side. There are no obvious devices to hide smoke as one sees in Vietcong tunnels. There is a first aid station and an elaborate funeral parlour to honour fallen leaders. It is rather surprising that this compound was not detected and attacked throughout the conflict.

Inner entrance to the compound

Inner entrance to the compound

Layout of the compound (display arranged by Sri Lankan Army)
Layout of the compound (display arranged by Sri Lankan Army)

Outer bunkers

Outer bunkers

Bullet proof sentry posts near the house

Bullet proof sentry posts near the house

Prabhakaran's house

Prabhakaran’s house

Entrance to the underground conference room

Entrance to the underground conference room

Jogging Track

Jogging Track

First aid station

First aid station

Funeral parlour.

SEA TIGER LEADER’S HOUSE

The leader of the much feared Sea Tigers lived in the outskirts of Mulaitivu in a comfortable house with a garden. This house too had several escape tunnels and defences.

The house

The house. The inscription over the entrance reads “Enemies are our best teachers.”

Entrance to an escape tunnel camouflaged as a cupboard

Entrance to an escape tunnel camouflaged as a cupboard

THE WAR MUSEUM

The Sri Lankan Army war museum on the banks of the Nanthikadal Lagoon houses LTTE weapons and Sea Tiger boats including their devices for suicide attacks.

Suicide crafts

Suicide crafts

Torpedos

Torpedos

Boats and mini subs.

Boats and mini subs.

Submarine

Submarine

In a separate part of the jungle, Sea Tiger divers trained for suicide missions in a massive camouflaged pool, 83 feet long and 22 feet deep. Half built submarines lie abandoned and rusting. A large field holds the twisted remains of thousands of vehicles, torched by retreating LTTE fighters. The most striking scrap heap of the thirty year conflict is the rusting remains of Farah, a Jordanian ship pirated and grounded by the LTTE and its metal plates scavenged to build boats and submarines.

The "Pool"

The “Pool”

A tank for testing mini subs?

A tank for testing mini subs?

A sub under constuction

A sub under construction

Burnt out vehicles

Burnt out vehicles

The ghost of Farah

The ghost of Farah

3 thoughts on “Scrap Heaps Of A Thirty Year War

    • Hi Sir,

      I stumbled across your blog while searching for possible sites to visit. I am a secondary school teacher in Singapore who intends to bring 15 year-old students on a learning journey to Sri Lanka to study the devastating effects of the civil war. I was wondering if you could recommend other places of visit in and around the Jaffna area where we could see and study the impact of the war, given that the above had been destroyed, as you mentioned. Thank you in advance.

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      • Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the trouble to contact me. I visited the former war zone 2 years ago. The military installations of the Tigers were destroyed in 2014. Travel restrictions to the North were lifted in January this year. Jaffna is well worth visiting even though it would be hard for me to name sites to visit in order top study the impact of the war.

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