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Sri Lanka wants to capture Prabhakaran 'dead or alive'

T V Sriram in Colombo | January 26, 2009 15:49 IST

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Fresh from their success in capturing the last urban stronghold of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Mullaittivu, the Sri Lankan troops are training their guns on elusive LTTE [Images] chief Velupillai Prabhakaran who, defence officials feel, is very much in the northern Wanni region, which comprises of Killinocchi and Mullaittivu.

"Our aim is to capture Prabhakaran dead or alive and we are sure he is around Mullaittivu, commanding the militants though they have limited options now, as most of the LTTE areas have been captured," a senior defence official said.

"We are concentrating as a unit to target LTTE top leaders, especially Prabhakaran, as they might try to escape realising that they do not have many options to hide," the official said.

Announcing the capture of the main Mullaittivu town on Sunday, Sri Lanka [Images] army chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka had declared that the war was 95 per cent over.

The army believes that after the capture of a luxury bunker and an underground command centre, suspected to be that of Prabhakaran, the LTTE leader would be seriously weighing all options either to flee or to find some hiding place. The bunker, believed to be the underground operations unit of the LTTE, was found in the thick forests of Dharmapuram town in Mullaittivu last week.

The underground communication centre, being labelled by the Lankan forces as a prize discovery, was camouflaged as an ordinary peasant hut. Since the centre had all the trappings of a command headquarters, its seizure has raised further questions on Prabhakaran's whereabouts.

LTTE commander-turned-parliamentarian Vinayagamoorty Muralidaran alias Karuna Amman believes Prabhakaran cannot escape to any other country as the concerned authorities would not permit him.

Karuna, who split from the LTTE in 2004 following differences with Prabhakaran and formed the Tamil Makkal Vidhuthalai Pullikal, on Saturday said he felt Prabhakaran will be arrested if he escapes to India.

A senior Tamil leader, who has escaped several assassination attempts by the LTTE, said Prabhakaran has been almost cornered.

"Prabhakaran has already tried shifting from one bunker to another or from one hiding place to the next in Wanni. But he cannot escape from the country," Douglas Devananda, the leader of the Eelam People's Democratic Front, said.

Army Chief Fonseka had last week said that Prabhakaran might have fled the country. There were also media reports claiming that that he may have entered Malaysia or Thailand.

With the fall of Mullittivu, the LTTE has lost its last major stronghold in the once-rebel dominated north and now remains boxed in a tiny patch of jungle in the coastal district. The military had captured the rebels' administrative capital of Kilinochchi earlier this month.

Many of the remaining rebel fighters, along with a large number of civilians, were believed to be hiding in the jungles of the northeast.




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