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Prabhakaran may use LTTE aircraft to flee Sri Lanka

T V Sriram in Colombo | January 23, 2009 16:08 IST

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The Sri Lankan government has taken steps to ensure that the top Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam leadership, including its supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, do not flee the country amidst fears that the Tamil Tigers could use their recently acquired aircraft to make their gateway.

"The four-seater planes with a normal range of over 1,000 km could be tried as a getaway vehicles for LTTE's [Images] top leadership," Lankan officials said.

A defence ministry official, however, said after the capture of six LTTE airstrips, it would be difficult for any LTTE aircraft to take off from its runway in Mullaittivu as the guns of the security forces were trained on the area.

Army chief Lietenant General Sarath Fonseka had said that if Prabhakaran was to try fleeing it would most likely be by sea as he would not have to confront an army-controlled area.

Sri Lankan jets had shot down a Tamil Tiger plane last September on the Mullaittivu skies after the rebels launched a pre-dawn bombing raid on a military base near the northern frontline.

The LTTE is believed to be in possession of three more Czech-built Zlin-Z-143 light wing aircraft.

The low-flying aircraft have carried night raids targeting military and other installations. The outfit surprised the world with its first air attack on a military airfield here in March 2008.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan air force denied reports that an LTTE plane was spotted on the Mullaittivu skies earlier this week.

The defence establishment on Thursday said that probe into what was earlier believed to be a suspicious aircraft over the skies of Mullaitivu seen on Tuesday night is now believed to have been that of a low orbit satellite.

The Sri Lankan naval craft had also spotted the lights in the skies and had reportedly fired on seeing the suspected aircraft on Tuesday night.




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