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LTTE supremo may have fled: Lankan Army

T V Sriram in Colombo | January 18, 2009 15:54 IST

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As Sri Lankan troops advance towards the last Tiger bastion of Mullaittivu, Army Chief Sarath Fonseka has said he was not sure whether Velupillai Prabhakaran was on the island nation but felt that it was not possible for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam supremo to find a shelter in India.

"Well, I am not sure whether he is in Sri Lanka [Images]. There are ways to escape. But it is not possible for Prabhakaran to have gone to India. He will not be permitted there," Fonseka told a group of media persons in Colombo on Saturday evening.

Prabhakaran is wanted by New Delhi [Images] in connection with the 1991 murder of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi [Images] and also listed by the European Union and United States as a terrorist organisation.

The Lankan Air Force had destroyed a vessel carrying arms and ammunitions for the LTTE [Images] just when it was being offloaded in the rebel coastal area, Fonseka said, adding, this showed the rebels were still trying to smuggle things in and out of the country.

"Why can't Prabhakaran also have tried to escape in this fashion with suicide crafts around him? But we are keeping a close watch," he said.

According to a newspaper report, Prabhakaran lives in a sprawling air-conditioned bunker complex, located over 30 feet below the ground, and comes up to the surface only in the night to avoid detection.
 
Fonseka had earlier said that the 54-year-old Prabhakaran, who was dealt a stunning blow after the fall of Killinocchi and Elephant Pass, was hiding in the key Tiger bastion of Mullaittivu, a coastal town.

"The Navy is on the alert to block any attempt by Prabhakaran or other senior LTTE leaders from escaping from the country," an official said, adding, "Naval blockade has been imposed in northern Mullaittivu."

The army also said that several bunkers and a large quantity of weapons belonging to Tiger rebels have been recovered in Dharmapuram in Mullaithivu.

The troops have also reportedly found a bomb manufacturing centre, a three-storied underground bunker and a training camp in search operations in that area.

Dharmapuram was liberated last week by the 57 Division troops of the army as it gained total control over the Iranamadu Tank bund.

Last year, the army added the specialised Task Force-2 to supplement the four divisions that were engaged in attacking Mullaittivu, the headquarters of sea Tigers.

Top commanders believe that Prabhakaran, even if he is still in Sri Lanka, may now be confined to an area of 30 km in the embattled north, living in a bunker.




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