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LTTE mourns top strategist's demise
May 21, 2008 14:00 IST
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has announced a three-day mourning for Balasegaram Kandiah, a top strategist of the rebel outfit involved in planning and conducting operations in Sri Lanka [Images], who died following a cardiac arrest.
Balasegaram Kandiah alias Brigadier Balraj died on Tuesday at the age of 42.
An expert on different forms of warfare, Balraj is reported to have deployed varied tactics while planning and conducting operations for the LTTE.
"It is with profound sadness that we inform Tamil people that Brigadier Balraj passed away at 2.00 pm on May 20, 2008 following a heart attack. May 21-23 are hereby declared as national days of mourning on his passing away," an LTTE statement said.
Balraj, who hails from the rebel stronghold of Mullaitivu district, commanded the deadly 'Charles Antony Brigade' till 1997.
He had a heart surgery in Singapore in 2003 when the ceasefire agreement between the rebels and the Sri Lankan government was in force. He was hospitalised for three months earlier this year, according to informed sources in Vanni, the pro-LTTE website Tamilnet said.
Balraj had engaged himself in Mannar and Manalaar war fronts in between his medical treatments, the sources said.
'Over the past two years, the LTTE has lost several senior leaders due to security forces' action while the top eastern province leadership had quit the organisation over differences,' the daily said.
'While some speculated he (Balraj) may have been wounded in an air strike or offensive action carried out by the army,' the LTTE says he died of a heart attack, it said.
The death of Balraj comes as another blow to the rebel organisation after the death of senior leaders like Anton Balasingham and S P Thamilselvan.
While LTTE ideologue Balasingham died of cancer in London [Images] in December 2006, its political wing chief Thamilselvan was killed in a Sri Lankan air force raid in November last year.
The outfit also lost a large number of its cadre since fighting intensified in the island's restive north following the Sri Lankan government's withdrawal from the 2002 Norwegian-brokered ceasefire agreement.
The LTTE has been fighting since 1983 for a homeland for the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka. About 70,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict so far.