Colombo to recruit 1600 for STF

[TamilNet, Friday, 21 June 2002, 17:50 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Minister for Interior, Mr. John Amaratunga, told troops frontline in Mannar Thursday that his government will recruit 1600 to the Special Task Force (STF), the elite counter insurgency arm of the island's military. Speaking among STF commandos and military trained Policemen manning forward defences on the border separating the Vanni region held by the Liberation Tigers at Kannatti, Mr. Amaratunga dismissed rumours that Colombo intends to downsize the elite counter insurgency force.

He told troops not to believe propaganda in the south that his government has yielded to a demand by the Liberation Tigers to disband the STF.

The Special Task Force commandos were raised and deployed on the coast and hinterland of the Amparai and Batticaloa districts in 1984. Ex- SAS personnel trained them in counter insurgency warfare at the time. Their relevance in determining the overall strategic balance diminished over the years as the Liberation Tigers grew into a conventional fighting force. They were deployed selectively along the road to Mannar since 1999, largely to patrol the border and harass the LTTE.

The minister opened the road to the Madhu shrine on Thursday. The Sri Lanka army had the road closed for more than six years. The Madhu festival begins next month. Sinhala and Tamil devotees who throng the forest shrine annually from all parts of the island had to take a difficult and long detour when the Madhu road was closed.

 

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