Ceylon Government security forces, continuing their battle against "Che Guevara" guerrillas, have cleared an area around the town of Kegalle in the island's interior.
Ceylon Government security forces, continuing their battle against "Che Guevara" guerrillas, have cleared an area around the town of Kegalle in the island's interior. A police station and a hospital formerly in the hands of the terrorists, mainly young, middle-class, and university students, were on Wednesday(April 21) being put back into operation by the security forces. Meanwhile the Ceylon Government claims the 18-day-old uprising is almost over. Plans for rehabilitating the guerrillas with a mixture of "political debate and strenuous exercise" were announced by the Government today(Friday April 23).
SYNOPSIS: Ceylon security forces, continuing their battle against the 18-day-old uprising by young "Che Guevara"-style guerrillas, have cleared an area around the town of Kegalle in the island's hilly interior.
Operating from Kegalle, forty-two miles(68 kilometres)north-east of the capital, Colombo, they have cleared an area around Aranayake, a few miles away.
Captured prisoners have been brought into the town for interrogation. Some will qualify for the rehabilitation programme set up by the Government to "re-teach" the guerrillas' political thinking, while others involved in direct violence against security forces may be charged with treason. The penalty for treason in Ceylon is death. A university has been taken over to house about five hundred insurgents who will be "rehabilitated", according to a Government spokesman, by "strenuous exercise and political debate".
The battle in the hilly terrain of the interior continues, although the Government claimed on Friday that the uprising was almost over. Intelligence reports were said to show large desertion from the ranks of the terrorists, many of whom were returning home to their families. Security forces have been hampered by the hilly terrain and lack of suitable equipment for fighting over it. But they have been gaining ground, and about two and a half thousand rebels are reported to have been captured so far.
Aid for the poorly-equipped Government forces has been pouring in from other countries. Small arms and ammunition, desperately needed by the army trying to combat the revolution in country like this, has come from Britain. Helicopters have been purchased from the United States, and Russian fighter aircraft have arrived on the island. For the moment, it looks like the guerrillas' last-ditch stand in the hills is a futile one.