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.
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.
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.