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Sea Tiger chief 'missing' after air raid on his hideout

February 07, 2009 16:53 IST
The Sea Tiger chief Soosai was reported missing after the Sri Lankan Air Force jets pounded his hideout killing at least 27 rebels, even as 5,000 civilians crossed over to the army held areas in Wanni, officials said on Saturday.

It was immediately not confirmed whether Soosai was killed or wounded in the attack, but he was reportedly missing.

"Air Force fighter jets on Friday pounded a hideout of senior Tiger leaders located one km north-east of Pudukudirippu Junction in Mullaitivu," Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said.

"Eleven the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam cadres including their senior cadres and their body guards had been killed. A large number of militants had also been severely injured in the air strike" Nanayakkara said.

It was later confirmed that the hideout targeted was the coordinating headquarters of the LTTE Sea Tiger. "It is now confirmed that as a result of monitoring the LTTE communications, the Sea Tiger leader Soosai is reportedly missing," Media Centre for National Security said.

The LTTE cadres using dozers (large powerful tractors) were seen digging up the hideout targeted, it said, adding that the jets attacked the same hideout again, destroying the dozers and others equipments used for digging.

"The rebel hideout was a building which consisted of all  modern facilities and lavishly equipped," Lankan officials said.

Meanwhile, as many as 5,000 trapped civilians from the un-cleared areas reported to the Lankan army on Friday in the areas of Dharmapuram, Visuamadu and Kuppilankulam in Mullaittivu, the MCNS said.

While two among them had sustained injuries from small arms fire, another had injuries from the explosion of an anti-personnel mine, it said.

Sri Lanka soldiers currently operating north of the A-35 Paranthan- Mullaittivu road are successfully dominating the areas north of the A-35 and west of Challai lagoon, the Lankan Defence Ministry said.

Troops found six bodies of LTTE cadres during the subsequent search operations in the area around Mullaittivu, the ministry  said. Snipers deployed north of KupulanKulam confirmed shooting down of four LTTE cadres during the day.

At Kilinochchi, troops found 21 hand grenades and one RPG bomb in North Kallur area on Friday, the MCNS said. At Kumarankulam in Mullaittivu, the army found six bodies of LTTE cadres after clashes between the the Tigers and the troops in a search operation.

The security forces also captured a LTTE camp in the area of Kuppilankulam on Friday, the MCNS said.

T V Sriram in Colombo
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