Outgunned but not out-foxed, Tigers go to talks seeking upper hand: analysts

Oct 15, 2006 (AFP) – The Tamil Tigers’ pummeling of Sri Lankan troops has proved that, despite apparent battlefield setbacks, they are still a force to be reckoned with ahead of peace talks later this month, analysts say. In just six hours last Wednesday, the Tigers turned back a government push into their territory, deftly using feints and false attacks to route army columns into a narrow kill zone before cutting them down with artillery.

The historically out-gunned rebels inflicted record losses on the government, killing at least 130 troopers and wounding 500 more in the army’s worst defeat since the 2002 ceasefire.

Colombo, which only days before claimed to have destroyed 75 percent of the Tigers’ fighting capabilities, was also forced to give up ground in the northern Jaffna peninsula that it had taken two weeks earlier.

“What (the Tigers) lack in man-power, they make up with better tactics and leadership,” said Namal Perera, a defence analyst for the Ravaya newspaper.

“The military had underestimated the strength of their enemy.”

While this single defeat was not the end of the army’s war against Tiger fighters, it exposed chronic weaknesses in the military’s leadership, said former Tamil rebel-tu